Is the Justice Department Improperly Ruled by Religion?
DonByrd printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 03:15:28 PM EST
Back in February, I wrote about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' new initiative. The First Freedom Project instructs the Civil Rights Division to focus attention on cases involving religious discrimination, even adding a new special counsel position in that area. Luckily for America, the problem of race discrimination has been completely eradicated, so the Justice Department has extra time and resources to make sure church groups can send religious flyers and crucifixion-themed candy canes home to public school kids. Or, as Becket Fund founder Kevin Hasson authoritatively said, causing me to choke on my Fruit Loops this morning, "We can now deal with the problems of racism more effectively on a more local level. . . . "

I had no idea...

Apparently the Bush Administration agrees with him. According to a NYTimes report today, the Justice Department has "reshape(d) its civil rights mission" under Ashcroft and Gonzales. Read on...

Link
In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government's role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.
...
"Not until recently has anyone in the department considered religious discrimination such a high priority," Professor Landsberg said.
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Along with its changed civil rights mission, the department has also tried to overhaul the roster of government lawyers who deal with civil rights. The agency has transferred or demoted some experienced civil rights litigators while bringing in lawyers, including graduates of religious-affiliated law schools and some people vocal about their faith, who favor the new priorities. That has created some unease, with some career lawyers disdainfully referring to the newcomers as "holy hires."

Don't get me wrong - religious discrimination should be rooted out, and should be a part of the equation in prioritizing Justice Department resources. Our religious liberty protections are precious and we must defend them for everyone if they are to mean something for anyone.

But there should be no religious test for government service. Being a conservative Christian should neither qualify nor disqualify you from a position in the Justice Department, but it sounds like it's playing an all-too-important role in hiring and firing decisions.

Mr. Ashcroft arranged for the agency's senior political appointees to take over the decades-old system used to hire recent law school graduates for entry-level career jobs that are supposed to be nonpartisan.
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Figures provided by the department show that from 2003 through 2006, there was a notable increase of hirings from religious-affiliated institutions like Regent University and Ave Maria University. The department hired eight from those two schools in that period, compared to 50 from Harvard and 13 from Yale.

Several career lawyers said that some political appointees favored the religious-oriented employees, intervening to steer $1,000 to $4,000 annual merit bonuses to them.

Ms. Oliveri and several other law professors said placement officers and faculty at their schools found that graduates seeking work at the Justice Department had a better chance by cleansing their résumés of liberal affiliations while emphasizing ties to the Federalist Society, a Washington conservative group, or membership in a religious fellowship.

A religious perspective should play no role in hiring attorneys for the Justice Department, and it really should have no role in determining which cases are pursued and which cases aren't. Combating religious discrimination should surely play a part in our administration of justice, but it's only one piece of the discrimination puzzle.




Display:
I did a little research into the DOJ's case for pursuing religious discrimination cases instead of race and gender ones. The results of my research are posted here:
http://kplusb.org/doj-lies.htm.

by bryanhbell on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 03:53:52 PM EST


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