The Justice Department’s Inspector General, along with the Office of Professional Responsibility, released a report yesterday in which they determined that department officials illegally applied political considerations in awarding summer internships and entry into the department’s elite honors program.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, “scores of highly credentialed young lawyers and law students were denied interviews for coveted positions…because of an illegal screening process that took political and ideological views and affiliations into account rather than merit”
The American Constitution Society released a statement yesterday expressing dismay that affiliation with the organization, which has chapters at law schools throughout the country, proved detrimental to applicants to the DOJ’s internship and honors programs. As the report points out, almost every applicant who noted their ACS membership on their resumes were “deselected” for interviews, while hardly any applicants belonging to the ultra-conservative Federalist Society were passed over.
While rumblings of politicization at the Justice Department have persisted for years, investigations into the damage this hyper-partisanship has done to the department are only now being released. According to an article in the Washington Post, “former Justice Department officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations said [yesterday’s] study underscores” the challenges facing the next president.
Nicholas Gess, an attorney who worked for the DOJ under President Clinton said that “the Honors Program at DOJ has always been the ‘A-list.’ The next attorney general will be stuck with many from the ‘B-list.’”