Inspector General Reports DOJ Civil Rights Division Committed Employment Discrimination

January 13, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU Calls Politicized Hiring in Civil Rights Division Betrayal of Its Mission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union responded to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility of the civil rights division, entitled “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the civil rights division.”

“Today’s report confirms that politicized hiring in the Bush Justice Department was business as usual,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Contrary to the inspector general’s recommendations that the Department of Justice take action in light of its findings today, DOJ issued a statement saying essentially the problem ‘no longer exists.’ This narrow definition of the problem as the act of a single employee is exactly why Congress needs to thoroughly investigate and ensure the civil rights division is following the law.”

Among its findings, the report concludes that political and ideological affiliations were factors in the hiring and transfer of career attorneys, as well as in the handing out of case assignments. ACLU Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins added, “The Justice Department inspector general’s investigation shows that the civil rights division switched from being chief enforcer of employment discrimination to a regular violator of the laws. America needs a civil rights division it can once again be proud of – partisan politics should play no part. That is a fundamental betrayal of the civil rights division’s mission.”

As the hiring scandals of 2007-2008 revealed, the Department of Justice has become overly politicized in the past 8 years. The law has taken a back seat to politics. In an action plan for the Obama administration, the ACLU suggested that the next attorney general should create a blue-ribbon commission to study and make recommendations on remedying the politicization of the department, and the commission should report on its recommendations within 90 days. The ACLU has also urged the Obama administration team to order the civil rights division to renew its civil rights enforcement.

For the Department of Justice report, go to:
http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0901/final.pdf

For the Department of Justice statement regarding the report, go to:
http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2009/January/09-opa-029.html

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