Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the nomination of Grace Chung Becker to head up the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Ms. Becker is the latest in a string of Bush nominees with relatively slim records who seem to be recommended more by a strong commitment to a conservative agenda than by meaningful qualifications.
Ms. Becker certainly doesn’t have much experience when it comes to the issues facing the Civil Rights division. Before joining the Justice Department in 2005, Becker had no prior experience in civil rights enforcement and her previous public statements indicate a disturbing lack of understanding regarding the critical problems facing this particular office. There are also serious questions about her impartiality. Her close affiliation to the Republican National Lawyers Association raises questions about her ability to remain independent when dealing with cases of voter disenfranchisement and redistricting – issues that are often referred to the Civil Rights Division. Considering the intense nature of the upcoming election, this matter deserves a full examination.
Over the past seven years, the Bush administration has pushed a hyper-partisan agenda that has splintered the Justice Department to such an extent that many career attorneys have resigned. The scope of the efforts to politicize the department were finally exposed last July when the firing of seven US attorneys, reportedly for partisan reasons, made headlines. This scandal, which resulted in the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, focused national attention on the dire situation facing this once esteemed institution.
Before confirming anyone to a top spot at the Department of Justice, the Senate must ensure that those nominated will not simply serve to further the president’s agenda but will instead work to protect the rule of law in this country.
To learn more about the politicization of the Justice Department, check out Alliance for Justice’s fact sheet here.