WASHINGTON - 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.
Instead, newly disclosed documents show, the lawyers hired over the past two years at the division have been far more likely to have civil rights backgrounds - and to have ties to traditional civil rights organizations with liberal reputations, like the American Civil Liberties Union or the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law....
"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.
By contrast, during the first two Obama years, none of the new hires listed conservative organizations, while more than 60 percent had liberal credentials. They consisted overwhelmingly of prior employment or internships with a traditional civil rights group, like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Robert Driscoll, a Bush administration official at the division who left before the hiring scandal, said that a policy of allowing professional civil rights lawyers to make hiring decisions based on civil rights experience was tactically "brilliant" because it would result in disproportionately liberal outcomes without any need for interference by Obama political appointees.