Justice Department Sceening Applicants on Ideology

Nathan Newman and Atrios bring us the news that the Department of Justice, under Ashcroft, is hiring law grads based upon ideological (read: right-leaning and conservative) views. Here's Nathan:
The Justice Department has killed civil service hiring of new employees in favor of political appointees screening all new employees for ideological purity.

The focus of the most recent controversy is the "Honors Program" which hires recent law graduates for the Justice Department. The results have been dramatic:

A half-dozen school placement officers said they had noticed a marked shift to the right in the political makeup of students who were approached for interviews this year.

At Columbia University Law School, for example, the head of the campus Federalist Society chapter set a school record by winning interviews at five separate Justice Department divisions, according to public interest law dean Ellen Chapnick. The Federalist Society is a conservative legal group whose membership includes some of the Justice Department's top officials.

Now, it may well be that liberals are less interested in joining a Justice Department of John Ashcroft, but historically both liberals and conservatives have joined the day-to-day enforcement programs of the federal government precisely because they have a reputation for NOT being politicized, except on the more obvious high-profile political hot potatos.

But as with the rest of the federal government, the Bush administration is trying to turn the whole civil service into one massive spoils system rewarding conservative cronies and proteges.

One of the problems with this is that its hard to get rid of civil service employees. For example, the U.S. Attorney's job is a political appointment. When a Republican is elected President following a Democratic Administration (as happened in 2002,) the U.S. Attorneys lose their jobs. But the Assistant U.S. Attorneys under them don't lose their jobs, due to civil service protections.

So doesn't this mean that these recent law-grads with conservative, right-wing ideological bents, can stay in their positions as long as they want, even if and long after the Democrats come back into power. We think so. These Ashcroft appointees can't be fired so long as they are doing their job.

This should get be getting wider attention in the media. Help spread the word.

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