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Snap Fact #131

President Obama Ends Bush Era Unlawful Staffing Practices At The Department Of Justice!
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has reversed a pattern of systematically hiring conservative lawyers with little experience in civil rights, the practice that caused a scandal over politicization during the Bush administration.

The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the Bush administration — which changed hiring rules to give its political appointees at the Civil Rights Division greater control over civil service hiring starting in 2003 — had violated hiring rules by screening out liberals and by actively seeking to fill civil service vacancies with conservatives, referred to privately by one Bush official as “real Americans” and “right-thinking Americans.”

As attention to the hiring changes mounted, the Bush administration partly rolled that policy back for the hiring of rookie lawyers in 2007.
President Obama’s appointee to supervise the division, Thomas E. Perez, went further in a 2009 policy giving career professionals sweeping authority to choose whom to recommend to fill openings for experienced lawyers, a much larger group. Under the policy, if an assistant attorney general for civil rights wants to overrule a recommendation, he must do so in writing. Mr. Perez has not overruled any recommendations.

The New York Times analyzed the résumés — obtained via the Freedom of Information Act — of successful applicants to the division’s voting rights, employment discrimination, and appellate sections. The documents showed that the Obama-era hires were more likely to have had experience in civil rights, and they graduated from more selective law schools, than those hired over the final six years of the Bush administration.

“During this administration, the department has restored the career-driven, transparent hiring process that will produce the most qualified attorneys for the job,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman.