The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division came under fire during the Bush Administration for stacking attorney positions with conservative lawyers with little civil rights experience.  Now, the Civil Rights Division is coming under fire for doing just the opposite – hiring lawyers with civil rights experience.

A New York Times’ analysis of resumes of successful applicants to attorney positions in the Civil Rights Division revealed that Obama-era hires were more likely to have worked previously at civil rights organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU than were Bush-era hires.  While DOJ is using civil rights experience as a job qualification for positions in a Division whose mission is to “uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans,” some are crying foul at this change in hiring policy, arguing that it is a means of packing the Division with left-leaning lawyers.

The New York Times writes:  “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. . . . But Joseph Rich, a former voting rights section chief who left during the Bush administration, argued that hiring people to enforce civil rights laws by looking for previous experience working on civil rights matters was not the same thing as looking for a particular political ideology.  ‘You’re not hiring people because they are liberal,’ Mr. Rich said.  ‘You’re hiring them because they have terrific experience in civil rights, and that’s what you need.’”

On June 1st, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee held its first oversight hearing on the Civil Rights Division.  Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez testified.