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Bradley Schlozman and Hiring for Career Spots in the DOJ Civil Rights Division:
From McClatchy, via Josh Marshall:
  Congressional investigators are beginning to focus on accusations that a top civil rights official at the Justice Department illegally hired lawyers based on their political affiliations, especially for sensitive voting rights jobs.
  Two former department lawyers told McClatchy Newspapers that Bradley Schlozman, a senior civil rights official, told them in early 2005, after spotting mention of their Republican affiliations on their job applications, to delete those references and resubmit their resumes. Both attorneys were hired.
  One of them, Ty Clevenger, . . . said his resume stated that he was a member of the conservative Federalist Society and the Texas chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association. The other applicant's resume cited work on President Bush's 2000 campaign, said the attorney, who insisted upon anonymity for fear of retaliation.
  They said Schlozman directed them to drop the political references and resubmit the resumes in what they believed were an effort to hide those conservative affiliations.
  Clevenger also recalled once passing on to Schlozman the name of a friend from Stanford as a possible hire.
  "Schlozman called me up and asked me something to the effect of, `Is he one of us?'" Clevenger said. "He wanted to know what the guy's partisan credentials were."
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"Illegally?" Again... what law does this violate?
5.7.2007 1:53am
OrinKerr:
Daniel Chapman,

This is from the DOJ website:
The Department of Justice cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant for Federal employment with respect to the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status or political affiliation. Discrimination on these bases is prohibited by one or more of the following statutes: 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(1), 29 U.S.C. 206(d), 29 U.S.C. 631, 29 U.S.C. 633a, 29 U.S.C. 791 and 42 U.S.C.
2000e-16.
(emphasis added). I gather that's what the story is referring to. Also, note that these jobs were career civil service positions, not political positions exempt from such requirements.
5.7.2007 2:00am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Would the Federalist Society affiliation be any more of a problem then, say, the ACLU? Or is an ACLU affiliation a problem, too.
5.7.2007 2:59am
HeyJim:
Jim, read a little closer next time. The problem isn't that they were FedSoc members. It's that "Schlozman directed them to drop the political references . . . in . . . an effort to hide those conservative affiliations." To summarize: (1) He hired them b/c they were GOP, and (2) He told them to hide the fact that they were FedSoc/etc in an attempt to hide (1). Ok?
5.7.2007 3:16am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't understand this story. Who sees the resumes they submit to the DOJ? In other words, who would these people be "hiding" the information from? And what would be the need to hide their conservative affiliations from this person? What's the theory, that he wanted to hire them, but he knew that two years later there would be an investigation of who he hired, and just in case the investigation was so superficial that it stopped at the resumes, he'd be prepared?

The way I read this factoid, it seems to me to be more logical if interpreted the other way: that Schlozman was afraid that they would be rejected if people knew that they were conservative.

As for the McClatchy article, parts of borders on ludicrous. Schlozman pointed out that he hired two ACLU officials for the division as proof that he wasn't partisan. One of Schlozman's critics handwaves away one of these two hires on the grounds that the job he was hired for wasn't political. Okay, maybe. But the second one?
They said Coates seemed to grow more conservative after his superiors passed him over for a promotion in favor of an African-American woman, and he filed a reverse-discrimination suit.
I see. So part of Schlozman's nefarious plot to make the division more conservative was to hire a liberal guy and snub him in favor of a black woman, so that he'd become more conservative?
5.7.2007 4:11am
Cato Renasci (mail):
I agree with David Nieporent: it's more logical that Schlozman was concerned that the career staffers in personnel would nix the candidates because the were conservatives.
5.7.2007 8:23am
AppSocRes (mail):
Why would you request that someone you want to hire hide some aspect of his background, unless you were afraid that this would negatively impact the possibility of his being hired? Ignoring the standard MSM liberal spin, this suggests to me that career lawyers in the DOJ's civil rights division discriminate against hiring conservatives and Republicans. Perhaps it is the career civil servants who should be investigated.
5.7.2007 9:01am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that you are missing the point. Hiring a conservative at the DoJ IS discriminating against liberals. Liberals are always better qualified than conservatives, because, after all, they are liberals. The purpose of government agencies is obviously to enact social programs, and thus a liberal is always going to be better qualified than a conservative. So, the natural corrolary is that if a conservative hides his conservative credentials so that he can be hired in preference to some liberal, the liberal was discriminated against.
5.7.2007 9:46am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Another way of looking at this is that the Democrats in Congress are investigating why a federal agency actually hired some Republicans.
5.7.2007 9:51am
Zathras (mail):
Bruce et al.

Your blindness is amazing. Re-read the last lines of the post:

Clevenger also recalled once passing on to Schlozman the name of a friend from Stanford as a possible hire.
"Schlozman called me up and asked me something to the effect of, `Is he one of us?'" Clevenger said. "He wanted to know what the guy's partisan credentials were."

Your spin does not work here.
5.7.2007 9:54am
c.f.w. (mail):
It looks like laundering the records at DOJ, so anyone doing a record audit would not see 12 GOP types and 2 ACLU or unidentified. What evidence is there that anyone "in personnel" was impeding the hiring of GOPers selected by S? At any rate, calling for new resumes suggests consciousness of guilt, yes? I vote for a private sector position for S, ASAP.
5.7.2007 9:56am
Felix Sulla (mail):

What's the theory, that he wanted to hire them, but he knew that two years later there would be an investigation of who he hired, and just in case the investigation was so superficial that it stopped at the resumes, he'd be prepared?

Yep. You *have* been paying attention! Perhaps not as to having "known" that there would be a subsequent investigation, but yes as to superficiality of said investigation. Because then, when questioned about the high number of hirings based on political affiliation, they can whip out those resumes, say, "Look, this is all we had on these people! No political affiliation here!" and then plead loss of memory as to anything else. If Gonzales can forget everything about firing full US Attorneys in the space of about six months, surely lower level people can forget just as much over two years.
5.7.2007 10:00am
Thomasly (mail):
Well, this is pretty strong stuff. Note that, according to the Boston Globe, fully half--half!--of those hired by the DoJ's voting rights section were conservative in some sense. Unbelievable, I know. I don't know anyone who voted for Bush, and here they managed to find several.

Also, we all know that it isn't familiarity with civil rights laws that's a qualification, but actual political support for the traditional liberal interpretation of those laws. Not that that's a "political" stance--it's just how the world is. So David Becker is absolutely right to suggest that the wrong kind of political experience is disqualifying ("if they had any civil rights experience, it was in opposing the enforcement of civil rights laws"), a stance I'm sure a more neutral DoJ has implemented in the past.

I certainly agree that "overseeing prosecution of human trafficking and police misconduct" is apolitical, and that these other positions aren't, which means that the other, more political positions must only be held by those with the right politics, and not by conservatives.

Of course, the most shocking bit in all of this is the fact that apparently the Bush DoJ engaged in "reverse discrimination" and that a former member of the ACLU objected. That's the only bit that I just can't seem to understand at all.
5.7.2007 10:21am
3L:
I took a look at the statutes Prof. Kerr cited from the DOJ page and only one of them even mentions discrimination on "political affiliation". Title 5, sec. 2302(b)(1)(E) of the USC (admittedly taken from Westlaw in my haste) prohibits personnel actions (defined in s. 2302(a)(2)(A)) that discriminate "on the basis of marital status or political affiliation, as prohibited under any law, rule, or regulation".

This seems to imply that there is only a bar to political affiliation discrimination if there is some other rule out there. None of the other citations on the DOJ page have anything to do with political affiliation. They deal with disabilities, age, race, etc.

So we're back to square one: Is there any law/rule/regulation prohibiting political affiliation discrimination in DOJ hiring? (And if so, should we tell the DOJ to add that citation to their website?)
5.7.2007 10:49am
AB (mail):
Some commenters here have argued that Schlozman told Republicans to remove affiliations from their resumes in order to avoid anti-GOP bias. Orin Kerr's elipsis in the quoted article leaves out something that helps us judge whether that alternative explanation is correct:


Two former department lawyers told McClatchy Newspapers that Bradley Schlozman, a senior civil rights official, told them in early 2005, after spotting mention of their Republican affiliations on their job applications, to delete those references and resubmit their resumes. Both attorneys were hired.

One of them, Ty Clevenger, said: "He wanted to make it look like it was apolitical."


In other words, it appears that the idea was to hide the fact that Republicans were hired by virtue of their Republicanness. Maybe you want to say Clevenger or others are lying, but I don't think you can spin this as a story about how the career people wouldn't hire Republicans.
5.7.2007 11:09am
Oren (mail):
While I have no problem with protection against discrimination based on political orientation, it is just common sense that support for the core mission is a bona-fide occupational requirement. Would you hire someone that didn't believe in enforcing worker-safety as OSHA or nominate an ambassador to the UN that thought the UN was a waste of space? (oh wait . . ) Would you hire a police chief in your city that didn't support arresting drivers for DUI?

There is nothing wrong with opposition to OSHA, for example. I happen to agree that the manner in which they operate leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, the proper venue for opposition to these policies is in Congress. What the administration has been doing is an end-run around Congress instead of faithfully executing the laws of the USofA.

That is the essential problem that I have with this administration - I don't get the sense that they are faithfully executing the laws that they don't like. This is not the role envisioned for the executive by the Constitution and it's a prescription for bad government if ever there was one.
5.7.2007 11:10am
SailorDave (www):
When I was in college, it was pretty routine to tell people to leave political activities off their resumes, especially activities that were either republican/conservative or green party/socialist level left wing (i.e. anything to the left or right of the east coast liberal consensus). I don't see any harm in anyone giving that same advice today.

The conversation about "is he one of us?" sounds like a problem, but that doesn't mean all the other behavior is also problematic. Criminalizing resume advice is a bad idea.
5.7.2007 11:12am
loki13 (mail):
Wow.... just, wow.

I have refrained from posting on so many threads (such as this one) lately because I am stunned into silence. I can understand (if not condone) what is going on in the Republican National Hierarchy because, as we all know, power corrupts (and absolute power, and the executive and legislative branches...), but I just cannot comprehend the mindset of many of the commenters.

Is it willful blindness?
The last throes of the Republican Insurgency?
A few dead enders?

Color me confused. As recently as 2003, I could still consider myself an independent. In 1999, a Republican. At this point in time, though, I could no longer, in good conscience, vote for a Republican for national office. For state office? Sure- I am lucky to have a great Republican governor who believes in a limited government, fiscal responsibility, and is (somewhat) liberal in the social sphere. But the only way to reform the national Republican party is to tear it down. I believe our government functions best when you have two well-defined viewpoints fighting it out for what is best for America. Not a hegemonic Republican party attempting to turn America into a one-party state (a permanent Republican majority).

So, for the Rostenkowski Republicans still out there, I ask of you, will you allow these precedents to stand? The powers accrued by this administration can be used by the next one.

...and if the next President is Hillary, or Obama, or Edwards, will you be happy if they use their power in the same way that Bush has? Warrantless tapping? FBI surveillance of domestic political organizations (hello NRA)? Government expenditures to help 'our' candidates? Litmus tests, such as this one, for applicants to Federal positions (only members of the American Constitution Society and Democrats need apply)?

I know I don't want that. What the current Administrations has done, and the Republican national leadership (see K Street project) is unprecedented. When you elect a Republican, it should be to get Republican policies enacted. Not to enrich the Republican party and further their power.
5.7.2007 11:17am
Justin (mail):
"Criminalizing resume advice is a bad idea."

At what point can we stop pretendint that's what was going on?
5.7.2007 11:17am
Oren (mail):

Criminalizing resume advice is a bad idea.


This was not advice given by a third party but rather by a senior official in the division to which the resume was addressed.

Furthermore, IMO and circumstantially, it wasn't advice intended to help the job-seeker but rather to clean the paper trail in case of a future investigation.
5.7.2007 11:21am
Oren (mail):
Justin - your response was better. I should stop falling for the straw man.
5.7.2007 11:23am
badger (mail):

When I was in college, it was pretty routine to tell people to leave political activities off their resumes, especially activities that were either republican/conservative or green party/socialist level left wing (i.e. anything to the left or right of the east coast liberal consensus). I don't see any harm in anyone giving that same advice today.


Undoubtedly, it's always wise to tailor one's resume to fit the job you're applying for (if you're interviewing at Right-to-Life, leave that NARAL internship off). But in this case the cat was already out of the bag. The applicants had already submitted resumes with their experiences (which they obviously didn't think was much of a liability at Bush's DOJ, despite SailorDave's "pretty routine" precautions). Schlozman didn't tell them to leave it off their resumes when they applied to other jobs at the department or in other places supposedly dominated by the "east coast liberal elite", he told them to take it off and resubmit to him. Does SailorDave think he just did this so he could suddenly forget what he had just read? These DOJ officials have such curious memories...
5.7.2007 11:23am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I realize that using political affiliation is "illegal" but what does "illegal" mean in this context? Is it criminal or just "illegal" as a matter of civil law? If proven will Schlozman go to jail?
5.7.2007 11:43am
Commenting Sock:
Before I interviewed at DOJ several years ago, I was strongly advised by people there to omit any political affiliation from my resume and to avoid any discussion of politics in the interviews. In the interviews, politics did not come up at all.

If the culture of the place has been changed in the last few years, that would be a truly sad thing.
5.7.2007 11:55am
Ubertrout (mail) (www):
Isn't Mr. Clevenger the same person who was complaining about his boss to Above the Law? And who published his Journal's internal left-wing machinations in Regent Law Review?

I'm not saying that the charges aren't serious - I'm just saying to look where they come from.
5.7.2007 11:56am
Special Guest:

Title 5, sec. 2302(b)(1)(E) of the USC (admittedly taken from Westlaw in my haste) prohibits personnel actions (defined in s. 2302(a)(2)(A)) that discriminate "on the basis of marital status or political affiliation, as prohibited under any law, rule, or regulation".

This seems to imply that there is only a bar to political affiliation discrimination if there is some other rule out there. None of the other citations on the DOJ page have anything to do with political affiliation. They deal with disabilities, age, race, etc.


First of all, the Elrod-Branti-Rutan line of First Amendment cases bars job employment actions based on political affiliation, where political affiliation is not relevant to the job duties. Second of all, the DOJ FR Notice itself could perhaps constitute a "rule" or "regulation" under 2302.
5.7.2007 12:03pm
cathyf:
Have you people ever hired anyone? Sheesh... Potential employers give resume advice every day to applicants. I've read a gazillion entry-level resumes in my day, and let me tell you, there are a lot of victims of atrocious resume advice out there. No, even though your "career counselling center" spent four years telling you that "co-curricular" activities are vital to getting your first job, in fact, in the real world we couldn't care less about your intramural ultimate frisbee championship. More importantly, in the real world the division is between those people who are mildly amused by inappropriate information on a resume (and they will give you the kindly advice to take it off) and those who are irritated by the information, perhaps to the extent of throwing the resume into the reject pile.

In every place I've ever worked, hiring someone required a consensus of the group, and so if you thought someone was a good hire then you had to take the initiative to "sell" the person to the group. And that was all about individual particular circumstance. ("You're applying for a job in accounts receivable, so that stuff about being NARAL treasurer handling large volumes of donations is relevant, but you should take NARAL off of your resume, and just put 'advocacy group.' You can tell Susie what group it was, because although she is a pro-lifer she is scrupulously fair, but don't tell George because while he is strongly pro-choice he is even more rabid about hating suck-ups.") Especially when hiring technical people, we always had to coach applicants through the process so that the morons in HR wouldn't screw up our hires.

Look, if these are jobs without policy-making roles, then the instruction to remove the conservative affiliations is good advice. Whether the person is a member of the Federalist Society, Act-Up, or the intramural ultimate frisbee champion, if it's just not relevant to the job then it should come off of the resume. It's not like these people were told to put down false affiliations, or to go join groups that they didn't agree with so that they could claim membership. They were told to take the affiliation off of the resume, so that it neither advantaged nor disadvantaged them in the hiring.
5.7.2007 12:30pm
Special Guest:
Cathyf, did you read the linked story? They accusation is that they were using political affiliation as a hiring credential, but making sure it wasn't listed on the resumes in order to erase the paper trail:


Clevenger also recalled once passing on to Schlozman the name of a friend from Stanford as a possible hire.
"Schlozman called me up and asked me something to the effect of, `Is he one of us?'" Clevenger said. "He wanted to know what the guy's partisan credentials were."
5.7.2007 12:34pm
ThomasL (mail):
"

it is just common sense that support for the core mission is a bona-fide occupational requirement


Yes, yes, your interpretation is neutral, the other one is polticized. We get it.
5.7.2007 12:57pm
cathyf:
Yes, Special Guest, I read the linked story. I am perfectly capable of noticing that while the story makes accusations which are nefarious, the bare facts which are reported don't support the accusations. Start here:
One of them, Ty Clevenger, said: "He wanted to make it look like it was apolitical."
Unless Mr. Clevenger is a mind reader (and if he is then he should forget wasting his time with lawyering -- real mind readers have unlimited opportunities for riches beyond the dreams of avarice) then he has no basis to know what Schlozman wanted. Indeed, if what Schlozman wanted was for it to be apolitical, then having it come out looking apolitical is rather a natural side effect.

The rest of the article sounds like classic disgruntled-former-employee fare. So your ex boss treated your argument with contempt? Before I take your side, I have to know what your argument was -- maybe it was a stupid argument. The article doesn't say. The only thing close to a specific was the assertion that Joshua Rogers "was the lone dissenter in a staff recommendation that the department oppose a new Georgia law requiring every voter to produce a photo identification card." Ok, so I live in Illinois, and that means that in each and every election, any vote which I cast in a statewide race for someone other than the Democratic party candidate is stolen by people voting multiple times in the names of dead and non-existent voters. And in a division named (evidently by someone with a keen sense of Kafka) the "Civil Rights" Division only one person thought that it was ok for a state government to exercise even the slightest amount of diligence to protect my right to vote.

Yep, that tells me everything I need to know about the "Civil Rights" Division and the credibility of the disgruntled former employees from there...
5.7.2007 1:54pm
badger (mail):

Potential employers give resume advice every day to applicants. I've read a gazillion entry-level resumes in my day, and let me tell you, there are a lot of victims of atrocious resume advice out there.


How many employers go on to employ the people who come to them with "atrocious" resumes? How often do they tell people to waste some more of their (the employer's) time by resubmitting a "correct" resume? Why, in particular, would it be "atrocious advice" to submit a resume mentioning conservative bonafides to a political appointee of a conservative president?
5.7.2007 2:08pm
AB (mail):
cathyf says, regarding voter ID laws:


so I live in Illinois, and that means that in each and every election, any vote which I cast in a statewide race for someone other than the Democratic party candidate is stolen by people voting multiple times in the names of dead and non-existent voters. And in a division named (evidently by someone with a keen sense of Kafka) the "Civil Rights" Division only one person thought that it was ok for a state government to exercise even the slightest amount of diligence to protect my right to vote.


Seriously? I hope you are exagerating for effect, cathyf. Do people really believe that elections are stolen by dead voters. I guess Karl Rove's long struggle to persuade people that an excessive number of voter registrations means the election is stolen (as opposed to being explained by the fact that rolls aren't immediately updated) has paid off. Disheartening.
5.7.2007 2:11pm
FormerDOJlawyer:
cathyf:

Check back in here in a month or two and tell us if you still believe that.
5.7.2007 2:17pm
Cecil Turner (mail):
Relying on Clevenger as an authority presents some obvious problems. In his strange letter (p.3), he claims he was being undermined (and eventually fired) by his boss, Ms. Cutlar, because she "particularly targeted attorneys hired by former Acting AAG Schlozman" (which he was). To subsequently attack Schlozman's hiring practices is more than a bit odd, and rather undermines his whole argument (even more than the fact that it was apparently written in response to being told he would receive an unsatisfactory performance rating by Cutlar).

This does sound like "classic disgruntled-former-employee fare."
5.7.2007 2:17pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
This does look like an attempt to hide improper partisan hiring, but it is also true that things have a reached a point where perfectly legitimate advice is now dangerous. A case in point is my uncle's story of discussing his plans with the dean after he got out of the Army in WWII. When he told the dean that he wanted to go into chemical engineering, the dean advised him against it, on the grounds that the industry was anti-Semitic and that as a Jew my uncle would have a hard time getting a job. The dean advised him to go into electrical engineering instead, as in the dean's view there was much less discrimination. My uncle took his advice and became an electrical engineer. Can you imagine a dean giving such advice to a student these days?
5.7.2007 2:18pm
margate (mail):
There is a *criminal* case to be made here under the false statement statute in 18 U.S.C. 1001.

How so? Because 1001 states:


Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; . . . [shall be guilty of a felony.]


The statement here is the resume's contents. The "jurisdiction" link is the executive branch. The "conceal[ment]" here is of facts revealing the applicant's political affiliation that a DOJ attorney relied on to make hiring decisions in violation of a federal regulation.

Anyone think that's not a crime? For an analogy, read 18 U.S.C. 371 -- which criminalizes any conspiracy to defraud the United States, which includes any concerted conduct designed to make it harder for a branch, department, or agency of the federal government to do its oversight job. That's a crime whether or not the conspiracy was designed merely to violate a federal regulation with no criminal penalties.

I look forward to the day when the next Democrat administration pulls all the same tricks as this administration.

First, cut out the career people from hiring decisions in Main Justice and in the field at USAOs. At Main Justice, the individuals being cut out of the process would be, by then, the same GOP hires who've been implanted the past 6 years.

Next, limit hiring decisions to political appointees, like Schlozman and Goodling. Only it'll be Democrat appointees making the choices.

Then, give the applicants good advice like, keep you chin up, and we under-promise and over-deliver, and -- oh, yea -- strip your resume of anything suggesting you're a tree-hugging liberal or a ACS member or you think the Bill of Rights should be protected (read: ACLU member).

Also, ignore the laws on the books . . . oops, I mean interpret them the way that advances Democrat supremacy.

Finally, put 1 voting machine in every district that votes historically GOP. Then take all the extra machines -- the new ones -- and move them downtown to the precincts serving predominantly Democrat areas. And after the election, take the report from the Civil Rights Commission complaining about such tactics and throw it in the garbage.

After that, we can all sit back and listen to the echo chamber, and commenters on threads like this, repeat how members of the Democrat administration have committed CRIMINAL violations of 18 USC 1001.

Too late. Too late. Too late.
5.7.2007 2:26pm
wm13:
Prof. Kerr, Special Guest: I think 3L has your number. No one is pointing to a law, rule or regulation that makes it illegal to consider political affiliation in federal hiring. A Supreme Court case interpreting the First Amendment isn't a "law, rule or regulation": indeed, further litigation would be needed to determine whether that line of cases even applies to the positions at issue here, and announcements on the DOJ website haven't been adopted as rules or regulations. There's a circularity problem there too: how can an announcement that the DOJ can't do something be the rule that makes it illegal for the DOJ to do that thing?

Now what is common in government is to hire politically sympathetic people for career positions and hope that the next administration won't detect them and/or will be hamstrung in an attempt to remove them by civil service rules. I suspect that is what was happening here.
5.7.2007 2:30pm
margate (mail):
wm13 said:


Now what is common in government is to hire politically sympathetic people for career positions and hope that the next administration won't detect them and/or will be hamstrung in an attempt to remove them by civil service rules. I suspect that is what was happening here.


You seem to have never worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
5.7.2007 2:42pm
OrinKerr:
WM13:
Now what is common in government is to hire politically sympathetic people for career positions and hope that the next administration won't detect them and/or will be hamstrung in an attempt to remove them by civil service rules. I suspect that is what was happening here.
WM13, what's your basis for that claim? I didn't notice a political bent to career hiring when I was at DOJ in the Clinton Administration (I was hired in 1998).
5.7.2007 2:53pm
OrinKerr:
Oh, and I should add that I don't really know about the legal question; I'm not an employment lawyer, and I don't pretend to be an expert on that. But I don't think it's an important part of the story, either: I'm interested in the long-term performance and reputation of the Justice Department, not whether particular people in the Bush Administration did or did not break the law.
5.7.2007 2:57pm
badger (mail):
From the Boston Globe (via Kevin Drum)


Half of the 14 career lawyers hired under Schlozman were members of the conservative Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association, up from none among the eight career hires in the previous two years, according to a review of resumes. The average US News &World Report ranking of the law school attended by new career lawyers plunged from 15 to 65.
5.7.2007 3:00pm
cathyf:
How many employers go on to employ the people who come to them with "atrocious" resumes?
First of all, I didn't say they were atrocious resumes, I said that the resumes showed the influence of atrocious advice. Typically the resumes themselves just made you feel embarassed for the job candidate and were at most chuckle-worthy, not laugh-out-loud outrageous. And sure, absolutely you would give someone serious consideration, especially if you were pretty sure that the resume problem was the result of bad 3rd-party advice and you had other things (school grades, recommendations, the rest of the resume) that gave you a clear suspicion that whatever the offending thing that was on the resume was somehow misleading.

Organizations spend billions of dollars worth of employee time, HR dept costs, headhunter commissions, advertising costs, etc. trying to find employees who will be productive contributors. Even after all of that due diligence, some small but significant number of hires end up being complete fiascos, and a bigger chunk end up lesser mistakes. And people who would have been excellent hires get away because they are not recognized for all sorts of reasons. Given that the people making the hiring decisions are usually the ones who have to live every day with the consequences of bad decisions, they have the strongest of incentives to get it right. So, yes, if someone's resume has something on it that it shouldn't, and you interview the person in spite of it, and you really like the candidate, of course you will advise the person to remove the off-putting thing from his resume and re-submit it. If your goal is to hire good colleagues and subordinates, that is exactly the sort of thing which you do.
5.7.2007 3:00pm
Special Guest:
5 CFR 4.2:


No person employed in the executive branch of the Federal Government who has authority to take or recommend any personnel action with respect to any person who is an employee in the competitive service or any eligible or applicant for a position in the competitive service shall make any inquiry concerning the race, political affiliation, or religious beliefs of any such employee, eligible, or applicant. All disclosures concerning such matters shall be ignored, except as to such membership in political parties or organizations as constitutes by law a disqualification for Government employment. No discrimination shall be exercised, threatened, or promised by any person in the executive branch of the Federal Government against or in favor of any employee in the competitive service, or any eligible or applicant for a position in the competitive service because of his race, political affiliation, or religious beliefs, except as may be authorized or required by law.


With all due respect to our host, I do think the lawbreaking aspect is interesting!
5.7.2007 3:08pm
FormerDOJlawyer:
CathyF,

Let me guess: You have never worked for the federal government.
5.7.2007 3:08pm
byomtov (mail):
Can you imagine a dean giving such advice to a student these days?

Not sure of your point. It was good advice then then, but I very much doubt that it is good advice today. But if it were, why wouldn't the dean provide it?
5.7.2007 3:18pm
cathyf:
Well, FormerDOJlawyer, given a broad enough definition of "good" in "good colleagues and subordinate" I think my statement is tautological. If your goal as the person involved in the hiring is to hire people that you want to work with, then you have a strong incentive to help those people "fix" their resumes. Whether you want to work with the person because that person will be a fantastic employee, or whether you want to work with the person because he/she will be a bigger slacker than you and won't make you look bad.

The purpose of a resume is to get you a job. Actually, even that is too strong. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, and it's the interview that gets you the job. A resume is not an end in and of itself; it is a tool which is a means to another end. Having a resume which has something wrong with it is pretty common. Having people hire you even though there is something wrong with your resume is pretty common, too, because there are lots of people who aren't stupid and can see past a resume flaw. In a small, informal organization, they hire you, and after they get to know you they tease you unmercifully about putting some doofus stuff on your resume. At a large organization, not just government, but anyplace with an HR bureaucracy which must be appeased before you can hire someone, the people who want to hire you will coach you through the process of cleaning up your resume and application -- and then tease you unmercifully later.
5.7.2007 3:25pm
Kevin! (mail):
It's sad that we've sunk so low that "It's not technically a crime, therefore it's okay," is an everyday pro-Administration talking point. Plenty of things aren't crimes, many of them are also morally wrong.

I'm trying to think of an example of something a Democratic President could do through political undermining -- in underenforcement or twisting executive enforcement -- that would be comparable to this &tee off Republicans. I can't think of any good examples off the type of my head. My point is to try and show that nonpartisan civil appointees benefits everyone &America in the long run. Anyone help?
5.7.2007 3:26pm
Invisible Man (mail):
Didn't you people see Orin's post showing the absolute floor for Nixon and W? There is a 30% floor who wouldn't find anything wrong if Bush instituted a policy of eating babies to end Darfur's food crisis. You can't convince these people with little things like facts or evidence. They will wave their hands at your pitiful evidence and mock your reason. And then tell you that Clinton did it too.
5.7.2007 3:43pm
badger (mail):

So, yes, if someone's resume has something on it that it shouldn't, and you interview the person in spite of it, and you really like the candidate, of course you will advise the person to remove the off-putting thing from his resume and re-submit it. If your goal is to hire good colleagues and subordinates, that is exactly the sort of thing which you do.


But what's the point of re-submitting it? You already have the resume and know all the dirt. The only thing you get by having him or her resubmit is a document with less information on file. What point does this have besides hiding information from others looking at the resume in the future?

And also, why, from a purely cynnical POV, are you giving this guy resume advice in the first place? If despite submitting a messed up resume you still want to hire him, why give him advice that will help him land another job offer?

Finally, returning to the ultimate question here: Why, in particular, would it be poorly advised to submit a resume mentioning conservative bonafides to a political appointee of a conservative president? Why would that be something to keep out of the personnel files?
5.7.2007 3:51pm
FormerDOJlawyer:
CathyF,

I gather that was a long-winded way to say "You're right -- I actually have no experience with federal government hiring"?

Federal government hiring is totally different than private sector hiring. Bigwig political appointees don't give out resume advice as a courtesy to entry-level applicants. I would think that anyone who has worked at DOJ knows exactly what Schlozman was doing, and it isn't for the innocuous reason you suggest.
5.7.2007 3:55pm
annonnymous (mail):
I'll be sending in an application for the Honors Program in a few months, and I truly do not know whether to include the fact that I am a member of the Federalist Society on my resume. Given coverage like this, I'm strongly leaning against putting it on there (especially since my membership is an absurdly minor part of my law school career). I don't want people to prescribe positions, or connections, to me simply because of stuff they've heard about the Federalist Society. But its grating to have to hide something that shouldn't be even remotely objectionable, at least in my mind.

Ugh.
5.7.2007 5:18pm
ThomasL (mail):
When I graduated from law school in the late 1990s, conservatives were routinely advised to delete any ideological items from their resumes before applying at DoJ: don't mention your membership in the Federalist Society, don't list your summer at IJ, etc.

That's consistent with the story that DoJ staffers tell. For example, Joe Rich, former chief of the voting section in the civil rights division, says that, when career staff ran the interview process, "a demonstrated interest and /or experience in civil rights enforcement and a commitment to the work of the Division were the qualities that interviewers sought in candidates." He makes it clear that this shouldn't be interpreted literally; "defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies" isn't the sort of "demonstrated interest and/or experience" that the staff was looking for.

But that was neutral. This new stuff, it's not.
5.7.2007 5:48pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
They will wave their hands at your pitiful evidence and mock your reason. And then tell you that Clinton did it too.

Well said. WDCD -- "What Did Clinton Do?" -- bumper stickers would seem to be called for.
5.7.2007 5:50pm
Special Guest:
ThomasL, a candidate must quite naturally be able to show that she can support the law she will be upholding. It's not a question of neutrality. If you worked for an organization that believes Title VII is bad law and maybe even unconstitutional, why should I hire you to protect Title VII plaintiffs? At the very least, you should get some very hard questions in your interview about whether you would be able to effectively work on cases that you don't ideologically support. I'd expect the same kind of questions of any candidate for, say, an ADA position whose resume showed she was active against the death penalty or drug laws. I know that federal judges ask these kinds of questions of liberal clerk candidates all the time. If your resume shows you're ideologically opposed to a certain law, that should definitely raise red flags for a person interviewing you for a job that involves applying that law.
5.7.2007 6:21pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Political, schmit(t?)ical ... what's the big deal, the commenters ask?

James Comey, last week, had some thoughts:

Comey said he'd heard rumors about this issue over the last six months from concerned DoJ-ers. He called the allegations "the most serious thing I've heard come up" related to the whole U.S. attorneys scandal. "If that was going on, it strikes at the core of what the department is. You can't have assistant U.S. attorneys in there based on their party affiliation. … You just cannot have that." Such partisanship, Comey said, would make it impossible for sheriffs and judges and everyone else involved in criminal cases to trust that the DoJ is a fair arbiter. "I don't know any way you can get the department's reputation back about that," Comey added.

I hope that Mr. Comey reads this comment thread, so he can learn just how wrong he was.
5.7.2007 6:46pm
ThomasL (mail):
Anderson, perhaps you should talk with Special Guest. Partisanship is certainly inappropriate, but apparently some "ideological" positions are appropriate and some aren't.
5.7.2007 7:35pm
Cecil Turner (mail):
annonnymous
I truly do not know whether to include the fact that I am a member of the Federalist Society on my resume.

Based on the data, if the politicos were doing the hiring, you'd have something less than a 50:50 by leaving it in. If we're back to the "apolitical" careerists, it's a disqualifier (which, apparently, is okay . . . hiring conservatives, however, might be illegal). No brainer: leave it out.
5.7.2007 7:45pm
Oren (mail):

Anderson, perhaps you should talk with Special Guest. Partisanship is certainly inappropriate, but apparently some "ideological" positions are appropriate and some aren't.
5.7.2007 8:36pm
Oren (mail):

Anderson, perhaps you should talk with Special Guest. Partisanship is certainly inappropriate, but apparently some "ideological" positions are appropriate and some aren't.


The question does not revolve around the applicants ideological or political positions. Rather, it turns on whether or not they can faithfully execute the law as written.
5.7.2007 8:46pm
FormerDOJlawyer:
I truly do not know whether to include the fact that I am a member of the Federalist Society on my resume.

The politicos are no longer running Honors Program hiring, so it probably doesn't matter.
5.7.2007 9:10pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
The notion that a good litigator cannot argue either side of an issue, depending on who one's client is, puzzles me. Even in the area of Civil Rights, I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants for over 40 years, and thought that an advantage. Ideology has nothing whatever to do with it. It is professionalism that drives my representations.

In my experience, also, I have known excellent defense counsel that have been effective prosecutors at one time. In addition, some very effective prosecutors and attorneys general have at times in their careers have also been extremely able defense counsel. Former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson is an example.

Maybe I am so old that my experience and impressions are obsolete. If so, I think that is sad.
5.8.2007 12:45am
badger (mail):

Based on the data, if the politicos were doing the hiring, you'd have something less than a 50:50 by leaving it in. If we're back to the "apolitical" careerists, it's a disqualifier (which, apparently, is okay . . . hiring conservatives, however, might be illegal). No brainer: leave it out.


Wow, you need a statistics refresher. Your advice is based on the fact that just under 50% of the new hires at the Civil Rights division are Federalist Society or Republican Lawyers Association members. But you're only correct if 50% or more of the applicants were members, which seems unlikely, given that the Civil Rights division is hardly a dream job for most conservative law students.

"No brainer" indeed.
5.8.2007 1:24am
Oren (mail):

Maybe I am so old that my experience and impressions are obsolete. If so, I think that is sad.


There are still plenty like you. Unfortunately, the past few presidents have decided that people like you are too much of a risk. You might take some principled stand that conflicts with the political goals of the "base" and make them very angry. How can you explain to your conservative (liberal) base that you must faithfully enforce gun laws (drug laws) that they don't support?! They'll crucify you for betraying their cause (see: Souter, Kennedy, Reno) because we, as a political nation, have lost the concept of an impartial civil service.
5.8.2007 2:20am
Cecil Turner (mail):
Wow, you need a statistics refresher.

Ah yes, perhaps we can both sign up for "statistics for the irony-impaired." Note, however, that argument is precisely as valid as the statistical "proof" given for claiming the hiring was politically biased under Schlozman. (Which is to say: "not.") However, the zero given for the previous eight hires is certainly suggestive. Enough that the assumption "it probably doesn't matter" seems problematic.
5.8.2007 10:01am
badger (mail):

Note, however, that argument is precisely as valid as the statistical "proof" given for claiming the hiring was politically biased under Schlozman.

First of all, nobody has claimed that they have "proof" that Schlozman hired based on politics, although the statistics and testimony of some of those hired by him certainly go a long way towards showing that.


However, the zero given for the previous eight hires is certainly suggestive.

Suggestive of what? That Federalist Society and RLA members aren't a large percentage of law school students and aren't particularly enthusiastic about faithfully enforcing some aspects of Civil Rights laws they don't agree with in the first place?

Here's a statistic for you: Before Schlozman took over the average law school ranking of hirees was 15 and the percentage of Federalist/RLA hirees was zero. When he left, half of the people he had hired were Federalist/RLA members and the average law school ranking was 60. Who is more likely to have been hiring on the basis of politics rather than qualifications Schlozman, or his predecessor?
5.8.2007 10:44am
Cecil Turner (mail):
That Federalist Society and RLA members aren't a large percentage . . .

Somewhat higher than zero, presumably. In any event your argument seems to be that the careerists didn't intend to discriminate on the basis of politics . . . hiring the best just had that effect.
5.8.2007 11:14am
badger (mail):

In any event your argument seems to be that the careerists didn't intend to discriminate on the basis of politics . . . hiring the best just had that effect.


Yeah, indirectly. Look, I'll accept as a given that your average Federalist Society/RLA member is exactly as qualified (on paper) for pretty much any position as an average law school student. However, I doubt that conservative law school students seeking jobs in the Civil Rights division of DOJ represent the cream of the crop, since I'd imagine the most coveted jobs among conservative law school students involve laws that they are more ideologically-suited to enforcing. By the same token, I'd imagine you find few ACLU members at the DEA or FCC, unless they couldn't find jobs anywhere else.

Meanwhile, among more liberal and moderate graduates, working at the Civil Rights division may have been a life-long dream among many of the most qualified, to the point where they'll pass up more lucreative opportunities. When these applicants go up against conservative students applying as a last resort, they run the boards when considered by qualifications alone. But when a hack like Schlozman is tipping the tables, many of those conservative students get hired, and you can see the results in the plummeting average law school ranking.
5.8.2007 11:57am
Cecil Turner (mail):
When these applicants go up against conservative students applying as a last resort, they run the boards when considered by qualifications alone.

So a program is demonstrably fair only if no conservatives are hired?

Assuming that's true, what would be the effect on say, voting rights cases? Possibly vigorous investigation of putative voter suppression, and that graveyard or illegal felon voting would be ignored? Is that a good thing™?
5.8.2007 12:27pm
badger (mail):

So a program is demonstrably fair only if no conservatives are hired?

You know, at first I thought your misreading of my posts was unintentional, but it's becoming pretty clear that it's deliberate. There is nothing in what I wrote that even implies the above.
5.8.2007 12:40pm
Cecil Turner (mail):
You know, at first I thought your misreading of my posts . . .
Fair enough; sophistry acknowledged. But your statement about a fair (qualifications alone) system does seem to imply that in one, the liberal and moderate candidates would "run the boards." I'm trying to get you to consider that a zero hiring rate (for any particular brand of applicant--including conservatives) ought to be considered a bug, not a feature. Cheers.
5.8.2007 12:56pm
badger (mail):
A zero rate over a large numbers of hires would begin to raise concerns. A zero rate over eight hires raises none, due to the relatively small percentage of FS/RLA members in the law school graduate population as a whole, and their historical disinterest in the field. The drop in law school rankings that occured with the rise in FS/RLA member hires, further indicates that FS/RLA Civil Rights division applicants tend to be significantly less qualified than their peers (unless Schlozman was deliberately targeting applicants who were both conservative and underqualified).
5.8.2007 1:14pm
badger (mail):
A zero rate over a large numbers of hires would begin to raise concerns. A zero rate over eight hires raises few, due to the relatively small percentage of FS/RLA members in the law school graduate population as a whole, and their historical disinterest in the field. The drop in law school rankings that occured with the rise in FS/RLA member hires, further indicates that FS/RLA Civil Rights division applicants tend to be significantly less qualified than their peers (unless Schlozman was deliberately targeting applicants who were both conservative and underqualified).
5.8.2007 1:15pm
Random Commenter:
"Meanwhile, among more liberal and moderate graduates, working at the Civil Rights division may have been a life-long dream among many of the most qualified, to the point where they'll pass up more lucreative opportunities."

Leaving aside the central question whether the hiring practices described were really unethical/illegal/ill-advised, it's unsettling that you don't see the domination of the Civil Rights division by these ideologically motivated people as troubling, while at once viewing the presence of those with other, equally ideological motivations to be anathema. Why would working at the Civil Rights division by anybody's "life-long dream" if not because it's a chance to move forward an agenda he or she considers morally imperative? Why would anybody forego more lucrative opportunities if not to "make a difference"? You may claim that one can fight the good fight while playing it straight up the middle, but I don't see much evidence anywhere, including in the apparent attitudes of people commenting here, that the sort of personal detachment required to do this commonly exists.
5.8.2007 2:29pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
I find these kinds of comments enlightening. Commentators seem to agree that the previous none of the previous 8 hires, all by a Republican Administration were Federalist Society members, and now half were. One explanation might be that conservatives don't like to work in the Civil Rights Division,a little dubious given their strong feelings against reverse discrimination in hiring and contracts. That such a comment is made already shows that it's not even on the liberal radar screen that there is a conservative view of civil rights.

What would be the chances of a law student, even from a top university, being hired by the career civil servants there if he talked enthusiastically about helping the Bush Administration fight discrimination against white contractors?

One way to test this theory would be to look at the party affiliation of the civil service lawyers in the Civil Rights Division. Do you suppose it's about 50% Republican, or about 100% Democrat? If it's 100% Democrat, do you think they would faithfully and professionally carry out plans to enforce Supreme Court rulings against anti-white discrimination?
5.8.2007 2:32pm
Colin (mail):
it's unsettling that you don't see the domination of the Civil Rights division by these ideologically motivated people as troubling, while at once viewing the presence of those with other, equally ideological motivations to be anathema.

You’re egregiously misrepresenting the discussion. No one views Federalists as “anathema.” The core function of these officials is to faithfully enforce the laws as written. The argument is that liberal applicants will be eager to do so, because the laws coincide with their personal beliefs, but that Federalists, who generally don’t like the laws as written, will not see enforcing them as an appealing career. The argument isn’t, therefore, that conservatives can’t or won’t faithfully enforce the law as written, but that the more qualified conservative candidates will gravitate to positions where their jobs will coincide to a greater extent with their own inclinations. Limiting the position to conservatives therefore pushes the overall quality of hires down, because you have to reach into the pool of conservative applicants who weren’t able to secure a job more appealing to their politics. The cream of the conservative crop don’t apply, because they don’t want the job.

I’m sure there are lots of principled rebuttals to that argument. What I keep seeing here, though, is just what Badger identified - a consistent insistence on misreading the argument. Like him, I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that the incomprehension is genuine.
5.8.2007 2:51pm
Colin (mail):
If it's 100% Democrat, do you think they would faithfully and professionally carry out plans to enforce Supreme Court rulings against anti-white discrimination?

Yes. Just as I would expect a 100% Republican office to enforce Brown, et al. The argument is not that Republicans can't or won't enforce the civil rights laws as written, but that they'd generally prefer jobs that coincide more fully with their own inclinations. Your arguments re: reverse discrimination are the best counter-argument I've seen on that point, but I'm not persuaded. I don't think that reverse discrimination is enough of an issue, doctrinally or practically, to motivate a top-quality conservative student to go to Civil Rights instead of, say, Antitrust or criminal positions.

Without data, though, I think we're both just sailing guesses past each other.
5.8.2007 2:54pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Beyond agreeing with badger and Colin, the point here is that the DoJ is supposed to hire these positions on merit, and specifically not on party affiliation or general political philosophy. It does seem possible (perhaps even likely) that the mission and nature of the civil rights division will attract more "liberal" hires as a general proposition. This is completely irrelevant to the point under discussion. The point we are discussing is the out and out use of ideology to hire conservative people into the division, in other words, exactly what is illegal. The arguments for allowing Schlozman (or whoever the administration puts in his position) to hire federalist society members for their ideology presupposes that this is a legal and desirable goal. It is not because no one is arguing that the "liberal" hires were selected into their positions in order to counter or dominate those legions of conservative applicants who all desperately wanted to enforce the civil rights laws. They were merit hires, pure and simple, and illegally and secretly going to a non-merit hiring system to counter the structural bias (perceived or real) in the system is simply wrong. If you want to argue for elimination of the rules and standards that create any such bias, fine. But please stop pretending that what was (allegedly) done here, if true, was anything other than an underhanded and illegal subversion of the process the department was required to follow.
5.8.2007 3:15pm
badger (mail):

it's unsettling that you don't see the domination of the Civil Rights division by these ideologically motivated people as troubling, while at once viewing the presence of those with other, equally ideological motivations to be anathema

I don't see it as troubling, because the former group is actually qualified, and was hired for their abilities and education, not their political alliegances. Should I also be troubled that DEA agents have a low subscription rate to Hemp Times, compared with the national average?


I find these kinds of comments enlightening...One explanation might be that conservatives don't like to work in the Civil Rights Division,a little dubious given their strong feelings against reverse discrimination in hiring and contracts. That such a comment is made already shows that it's not even on the liberal radar screen that there is a conservative view of civil rights.


I never said that conservatives have no interest whatsoever in civil rights laws. But the proof is in the pudding. Even when Schlozman tipped the tables to force hiring of FS/RLA members (in secret, deliberately taking steps to avoid discovery), he wasn't able to attract conservative candidates from elite law schools. Obviously, whatever their concerns about black-on-white racism, top conservative lawyers felt their talents were needed elsewhere.

This statistic has been noted several times before. I'm sure you'd find the comments posted here even more "enlightening" if you'd read them in full.
5.8.2007 4:12pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Law school ranking doesn't tell a complete story. Some idea of the individual hires' class rankings would be very helpful. After all, would you rather have someone who was middle of the class at a top-15 school or someone who was top 10% at the 60th ranked law school?

Nick
5.8.2007 4:20pm
badger (mail):
Christ Nick, how many hairs do you want to split? Yes, I omitted the very unlikely possibility that the FS/RLA hires represented the cream of the crop of Regent University, while the applicants hired prior to Schlozman were a bunch of underachievers from Penn State. I also omitted the possibility that George Soros bribed Schlozman into turning his department into a hack-tacular embarassment in order to make President Bush look bad. I guess I should look through his bank records for the last twenty years before I rush to judgement like that.
5.8.2007 4:46pm
ThomasL (mail):
Some of this is just bad faith. As I said above, Joe Rich, former chief of the voting section in the civil rights division, says that when career staff ran the interview process, "a demonstrated interest and /or experience in civil rights enforcement and a commitment to the work of the Division were the qualities that interviewers sought in candidates." He makes it clear that this shouldn't be interpreted literally; "defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies" isn't the sort of "demonstrated interest and/or experience" that the staff was looking for.

There was an ideological test at the DoJ when career staff ran the interview process. That's documented and it can't be papered over or ignored.

Now, the question is, is that sort of thing OK, and is it OK in general, or only when liberals do it? (I think Felix's view is that "ideological" tests are wrong when used by conservatives but not when used by liberals.)

The suggestion that conservative students aren't interested in working in Civil Rights is an entirely unsupported conjecture used to explain what doesn't need to be explained. We don't need to guess why there are so few conservatives at Civil Rights; Joe Rich has told us why.

There's also a misguided and naive suggestion that conservatives don't care about civil rights laws, and wouldn't enforce them in the same way as liberals. The second part may well be true, but that conservatives interpret laws differently isn't to say that one interpretation is better or more accurate than the other. The point isn't to take a maximalist position, but to get things right. We don't want prosecutors to be all law-and-order conservatives, and we wouldn't want any prosecutor, conservative or liberal, to push the law beyond a fair reading, whatever his ideological position.
5.8.2007 4:53pm
badger (mail):

I said above, Joe Rich, former chief of the voting section in the civil rights division, says that when career staff ran the interview process, "a demonstrated interest and /or experience in civil rights enforcement and a commitment to the work of the Division were the qualities that interviewers sought in candidates."

Wow, it's almost as if employers have an interest in hiring people who are genuinely motivated in their profession and not just interviewing because they couldn't get into the Cyberterrorism Division. I didn't realize that when my engineering firm asked me why I wanted to be an engineer, it was really code for: "Are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton?"
5.8.2007 5:11pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

I think Felix's view is that "ideological" tests are wrong when used by conservatives but not when used by liberals.

No, that expressly isn't my view. We appear to disagree on whether ideology was used prior to this administration in hiring. I asserted (along with badger and other commenters) that it was not used, and that any ideological bias seen previously in the department was a neutral function of the mission of the department (civil rights enforcement) combined with merit selection. What the evidence tends to show now is the more recent practice of outright ideology testing ("Are you a member of the Federalist Society?") combined with non-merit selection (or at least a sharp reduction in the "objective" qualifications of the candidates) as demonstrated by the drop in average law school ranking of the candidates.

To sum up, again, the problem is quite simply that ideology was not used previously, and is being used now. That the methods used previously may have tended toward some sort of ideology selection is irrelevant, it was a side-effect of the merit selection system. And yes, I am aware of your Joe Rich quotation, but I do not buy it as a nod-nod-wink-wink-we-select-on-ideology admission. The fact of the matter is that objective standards have declined under the new regime, and at the same time as evidence that there was an outright ideology selection system put in place. The smart money is on the co-existence of smoke and fire.
5.8.2007 5:38pm
Colin (mail):
Thomas, you've attributed that "defending employers" language to Rich twice now. I can't find it in the linked article, though. Where does that quote come from?

You're also become quite shameless in putting words in other people's mouths.

Felix said, "They were merit hires, pure and simple, and illegally and secretly going to a non-merit hiring system to counter the structural bias (perceived or real) in the system is simply wrong. If you want to argue for elimination of the rules and standards that create any such bias, fine. But please stop pretending that what was (allegedly) done here, if true, was anything other than an underhanded and illegal subversion of the process the department was required to follow."

Your take on that was that "Felix's view is that 'ideological' tests are wrong when used by conservatives but not when used by liberals." That's an inflammatory mischaracterization that isn't supported by his actual words.

As has been said several times now, it's becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the glib distortions of Schlozman's defenders are honest mistakes; your most recent summary of others' comments seems to be have been offered in very bad faith. For example, you said, "There's also a misguided and naive suggestion that conservatives don't care about civil rights laws, and wouldn't enforce them in the same way as liberals." Can you point us to that suggestion? I can't find it in this thread. I can find several comments explaining, slowly and clearly, that there is no expectation that conservatives would be unwilling or unable to enforce civil rights laws. The argument is not that conservatives would do a bad job, but that they would (as a general matter) prefer other jobs, depressing the quality of conservative applicants. There's lots of room to argue that point on the merits, without attacking fictitious arguments that haven't actually been made.

There are lots of places on the internet where you can start a flame war by falsely attributing an argument to your opponents. Please don't do it here.
5.8.2007 5:42pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
As someone mentioned earlier:


Half of the 14 career lawyers hired under Schlozman were members of the conservative Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association, up from none among the eight career hires in the previous two years, according to a review of resumes


Hmmm. So, the "problem" began when he started hiring Republicans, not in the previous two years when none were hired. Why are none of you upset over the partisan skew of those previous two years?

(Oh yeah. Forgot. Repubs bad; Dems good. Nevermind...)
5.8.2007 8:26pm
badger (mail):
Henri,

It's really getting pathetic how none of the apologists here can even respond to a full argument, or even have their response to a strawman make sense. The problem was never that half the people hired had FS/RNLA affiliation, although it was a warning flag that Schlozman did everything in his power to keep out of sight. The problem, as you so conveniently leave out of your excerpt, is that the quality of those hired (as measured in quality of law school attended) dropped precipitously as political affiliation began to outweigh merit.

Meanwhile, even if that was the "problem" identified by Prof. Kerr and many commenters, your response is poorly reasoned, particularly where you assume that no "Republicans" were hired in the years preceding Mr. Schlozman's tenure. Many Republicans decline to join FS or RNLA during law school. There is every chance that, on their merits, several Republicans were hired during the period where qualifications still mattered.
5.8.2007 9:14pm
Thomasly (mail):
Colin, the quote is from his testimony to the Hous Judiciary committee.

And, yes Colin, Felix believes that "merit" means "agrees with the liberal view on civil rights laws." I hadn't been cynical enough to turn that one around, but I suppose I should, so here goes: "merit" means takes the conservative line on civil rights laws, so liberals are presumptively unqualified. How's that?

Is interest in "criminal law" taken to mean "interest in prosecuting criminals"? What would that mean for those who want to do criminal defense work? Or, god forbid, both (one after the other, of course)? The fact that so many here (following Joe Rich on this one) can't see that civil rights laws aren't any different than any other laws, and that one can find a field "interesting" without holding any particular political or ideological views is astonishing.

Colin, we know that the civil rights division used to discriminate based against conservatives--that's confessed and uncontroverted. So why do we need fanciful and unsupported conjecture about why so few conservatives are willing to take these jobs? And why would we think that, all things being equal, the fanciful and unsupported conjecture offers a better explanation than the uncontroverted confession?

Finally, it isn't true that we know that the more recent hires have "worse" objective credentials. As has been mentioned above, class rank and other relevant experience are both relevant to the hiring process, and the fact that the (entirely unscientific) ranking of the law schools producing the more recent hires is lower doesn't tell us much. I'd prefer a top grad from many state law schools to the bottom student from Harvard.
5.8.2007 11:33pm
Colin (mail):
Felix: "[T]he point here is that the DoJ is supposed to hire these positions on merit, and specifically not on party affiliation or general political philosophy." (emphasis added)

ThomasL/Thomasly: "And, yes Colin, Felix believes that 'merit' means 'agrees with the liberal view on civil rights laws.'"

I have nothing to add, other than that I am now quite certain that your misconstruction of Felix's point is deliberate and dishonest.
5.9.2007 11:07am
Felix Sulla (mail):
Wow, I'm glad you're here to tell me what I believe, Thomas! And more glad that Colin has already said everything that needs to be said about that.
5.9.2007 11:50am
David Martin Price (mail):
I called for a Truth and Reconcilation Commission. I don't think Congress questioning Gonzales can take this any farther. Its time for everybody to talk with their local US Attorney in town hall meetings.


Truth and Rconciliation
5.10.2007 2:53am