Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The DOJ Report on the Politicization of Hiring

Sam Buell (Wash U/St. Louis) calls my attention to the new DOJ Report on the now notorious role that ideological screening played in what used to be highly prestigious and merit-based positions for young attorneys in the DOJ; Professor Buell writes:

It's long and I've only skimmed it so far but it gives loads of concrete content to what many of us suspected about the recent perversion of DOJ's hiring practices involving our students.  The antipathy to selected law school organizations is interesting to see in black and white, though not terribly surprising.  I know we're supposed to welcome the Federalist Society everywhere for its wonderful contributions to intellectual diversity on campus but, when reading this document, it's hard not to fear--among some of its influential members--a sinister agenda with quite a long view to transform the bar into an organ that serves one particular set of ideological ends while cloaking itself in professionalism.  "We want our place at the head table!  ...  Right, thanks, now that we've got it, you can't have yours anymore."  I'm hard-pressed to think of a similar scenario, actual or even plausibly imaginable, involving members of a mainstream law organization that is left of center.  In any event, Michael Mukasey deserves ample credit for seeing that this investigation was done and that this report was published (of course, all that's only because some dogged critics managed to embarrass Alberto Gonzales out of the building).  For those of us who care a lot that the DOJ remain one of the nation's most important and revered legal institutions, this report is appalling but ultimately heartening and a meaningful step on the road back.

For those pressed for time, the charts on pages 22-33 tell most of the sordid story.  The question now is whether these positions can recover their previous professional cache, or whether they will be tainted for years to come.

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