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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Who needs civil rights, anyway?

I mean, racial discrimination is all in the past, right?

That's the view from the White House, it seems. And to enforce this view, Dubya's administration has spent the last three years turning the feds' civil rights enforcement arm away from its traditional task of ending racial discrimination. Instead, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is being run by right-wing political hacks who recruit lawyers without civil rights background so that they can defend whites from 'reverse discrimination' and Christians from 'persecution.'

In another excellent article from Charlie Savage, the Boston Globe shows how dramatic Dubya's gutting of the Civil Rights division has been. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Globe obtained job application materials for positions filled since between 2001 and 2006. Those materials showed a startling change in the backgrounds of the people hired since 2003 — the year that political appointees hijacked control of the hiring process. After that date, only 42 percent of the lawyers hired by the Civil Rights Division since them have any civil rights experience. That compares to the 77 percent of those hired before 2003. What the post-2003 hires had in abundance, however, was previous work with right-wing political groups or connecitons to prominent right-wingers.

Hires with traditional civil rights backgrounds -- either civil rights litigators or members of civil rights groups -- have plunged. Only 19 of the 45 lawyers hired since 2003 in those three sections were experienced in civil rights law, and of those, nine gained their experience either by defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies.

Meanwhile, conservative credentials have risen sharply. Since 2003 the three sections have hired 11 lawyers who said they were members of the conservative Federalist Society. Seven hires in the three sections are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association, including two who volunteered for Bush-Cheney campaigns.

Several new hires worked for prominent conservatives, including former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, former attorney general Edwin Meese, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, and Judge Charles Pickering. And six listed Christian organizations that promote socially conservative views.

The changes in those three sections are echoed to varying degrees throughout the Civil Rights Division, according to current and former staffers.

At the same time, the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians.

"There has been a sea change in the types of cases brought by the division, and that is not likely to change in a new administration because they are hiring people who don't have an expressed interest in traditional civil rights enforcement," said Richard Ugelow, a 29-year career veteran who left the division in 2002.

It's a another disgusting story of the type that's proving to be so typical of how Dubya and his minions are using the government to remake the country in its own right-wing fundamentalist image. I strongly recommend reading Savage's whole report.

| | Posted by Magpie at 10:19 AM | Get permalink




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