Reality is often stranger than fiction. A former Justice Department lawyer, who publishes at PJ Tatler, has
obtained documents from the Justice Department detailing efforts to recruit attorneys and staff . . . who have “psychiatric disabilities” or “severe intellectual disabilities.” On May 31, 2012, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez issued a directive to affirmatively recruit people with these “targeted disabilities.”
This DOJ policy does not merely involve prohibitions against discrimination, but rather the documents reveal deliberate recruitment efforts to hire as attorneys and staff for the Department of Justice people suffering from psychiatric disorders and intellectual disabilities. Moreover, applicants can “self-identify” their disability by means of the “Standard Form 256, Self Identification Disability.”
Those with “targeted disabilities” may be hired through a “non-competitive” appointment. That means they don’t have to endure the regular civil service competition among applicants, but can be plucked from the stack of resumes and hired immediately instead.
According to the documents, those with these “targeted disabilities” may be hired “before the position is advertised” and even “before the position’s closing date.” Moreover, lawyers with psychiatric disabilities and “severe intellectual” disabilities receive a waiver from the requirement that a new DOJ employee have practiced law for one year before being hired.
As “Hube,” a schoolteacher, notes at Colossus of Rhodey, “Considering some of the [bizarre] decisions to come out of the DOJ these past few years, I’d say they have quite of few of these folks already.” (Maybe he was thinking about how the Justice Department has foolishly attacked banks for using traditional, prudent lending criteria, and how it has threatened schools with lawsuits for discouraging use of bad English, or for seeking to discipline minority students who repeatedly disrupt class and thus contribute to the minority achievement gap.
Then again, many Justice Department actions seem to be the product of dishonesty and moral turpitude rather than mere “intellectual disabilities.” For example, Judge Reggie Walton recently ruled that political appointees in the Justice Department lied about a high-profile voting rights case. As Judge Walton noted in his ruling, “The documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case,” facts that “contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that decision.”).
Since the Justice Department’s hiring policy is so bizarre, you may be tempted not to believe it. But, as PJ Tatler notes, “you can read the detailed Civil Rights Division “Hiring of Persons With Targeted Disabilities Policy’ memo here.”
While the Obama Justice Department seeks to hire lawyers with intellectual disabilities so severe that they were unable to practice law for even a year, it has systematically refused to hire moderate, conservative, or libertarian attorneys, even though there are branches of the Justice Department, such as the one that enforces the religious-liberties RLUIPA law, that involve areas of expertise where plenty of qualified conservative lawyers could easily be found. The right-wing radio host Michael Savage once claimed that liberalism is a mental disorder (he would no doubt view the Justice Department’s hiring of lawyers with “severe intellectual disabilities” as confirmation of that). The staunchly left-wing political appointees in the Justice Department plainly view conservatism as being far worse than a mental disability, since they give preference to attorneys with mental disabilities, but don’t hire conservatives at all.
Nor does the Justice Department hire apolitical or non-partisan attorneys. In 2011, a former Justice Department lawyer examined the Justice Department ‘s hires, and determined that it had hired 113 overtly liberal lawyers and absolutely zero apolitical or non-liberal lawyers for 113 positions, including positions involved in litigating the RLUIPA statute and other religious-liberty laws that are often handled by non-liberal lawyers in private practice — illustrating that the applicant pool for the positions no doubt included qualified applicants whose applications were rejected by the Obama Justice Department on ideological grounds. (You can read PJ Media’s full report on attorneys hired in the Justice Department Civil Rights Division from 2009-2010 here in the Every Single One series.)
(One final note: the Justice Department’s hiring memo suggests that only otherwise-qualified employees would be hired under the streamlined “targeted disability” hiring process. This suggests it classifies such applicants as qualified even if they can’t handle a job in the outside world – for example, if they could work behind a desk at DOJ, even though their mental disabilities prevent them from interacting with clients or appearing in court. But such desk jobs abound in the outside world for junior lawyers, in areas such as document review. For example, I never met a client while practicing international trade law as a junior attorney; only senior lawyers did that.)