Heritage Foundation Complains That DOJ's Civil Rights Lawyers Believe In "Human Rights"

August 24, 2011 12:16 pm ET — Walid Zafar

In 2008, the Department of Justice's Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility issued a remarkably thorough report on politicized hiring with the department's Civil Rights Division. It concluded that "the Civil Rights Division improperly used political or ideological affiliations in assessing applicants for career attorney positions" and quoted Bradley Schlozman, the former head of the division, as having written, "My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs rights out of the section."

"In doing so," the report added, [Schlozman] violated federal law—the Civil Service Reform Act—and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct." During his time there, Schlozman called lawyers working under him "commies" and promised to hire more "real Americans" and "right-thinking Americans."

For years now, conservatives have been feverishly working to dig up a similar controversy within the Obama administration. They can't find any evidence for one so they've settled for the next best thing: complaining that the Civil Rights Division hires too many civil rights lawyers.

Lachlan Markay, an investigative reporter with the Heritage Foundation, is the most recent conservative to see this rather disturbing pattern emerging within the division. Too many lawyers within the Civil Rights Division are liberals, some of whom have previously represented Guantanamo Bay detainees or given money to Democratic politicians. "'Outside the mainstream' would hardly seem to capture the radicalism inherent in such work," Markay explains. According to Markay:

"Social justice," "gender identity," "human rights," "diversity," and other such politically correct buzzwords pepper the summary of these hires' professional backgrounds and educations. Attorneys have worked to give convicted felons voting rights, and asylum to illegal immigrants. Conspicuously absent is any hire who has devoted his or her career to constitutional scholarship or — heaven forbid — criminal prosecution or civil defense. [...]

The background of any individual attorney, though, is of less importance than the complete ideological uniformity of the entire section. Clearly there has been no meaningful effort made to staff the Civil Rights Division with attorneys who represent the views of the American people. In fact, there may very well have been a conscious effort to fill the division with leftist ideologues who share the same radical legal and political views, in possible violation of civil service rules.

The two paragraphs above display uncanny ignorance of what the Department of Justice is charged with doing. Attorneys are not supposed to represent "the views of the American people," they are to enforce the laws on the books. What constitutes justice is not determined by public opinion but by what has been legislated through the democratic process.

Moreover, who puts "human rights" in scare quotes when discussing civil rights? Isn't the point of civil rights to enforce the human rights that have been codified into law? As Matt Gertz rightfully points out, "This argument makes about as much sense as complaining that the DOJ's Tax Division is hiring too many tax lawyers." The Civil Rights Division is supposed to defend civil rights. It just so happens that people who gravitate towards a career in civil rights law aren't the sort of people who think "human rights" and "diversity" are "politically correct buzzwords." Rather, they're probably the type of people who pursue such a career due to their ideological convictions.

This is only a controversy, then, if you are of the opinion that the executive branch must hire people who disagree with its policies and work to undermine them, a position which Markay and other conservatives would probably not endorse.