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Every Single One: The Politicized Hiring of Eric Holder’s Appellate Section

All seven new hires to the Justice Department's Appellate Section have far-left resumes — which were only released following a PJMedia lawsuit. (This is the eleventh of a series of articles about the Justice Department's hiring practices since President Obama took office. Read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.)

by
Hans A. von Spakovsky

Bio

September 19, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Today represents the eleventh installment of PJMedia’s expose into the heavily politicized hiring practices of the Civil Rights Division in the Obama Justice Department. The series has exposed the obvious liberal litmus test applied to the hiring of all new career attorneys since Eric Holder and liberal appointees such as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez took the reins.

It has also revealed a stunning degree of hypocrisy (even by liberal standards) by Department leaders, especially Holder himself. The attorney general, after all, trashed the Bush administration and came into office promising that neither political affiliation nor ideology would play any role in hiring at the supposedly “reinvigorated” Civil Rights Division.

If these articles have shown nothing else, they have demonstrated the hollowness of Holder’s rhetoric. He and his colleagues owe a sincere apology to those who were wrongfully criticized during the prior administration.

It is disappointing, but not altogether surprising, that it took a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to pry the resumes of the new career attorney hires out of the hands of the self-styled “most transparent administration in history.” Holder and his ilk knew full well that the resumes would prove politically embarrassing and would reveal the extent of the political shenanigans going on in the Civil Rights Division. They were right. The effort to fill every last corner of the Division with left-wing partisans, militant activists, and other committed liberals has been unprecedented.

In contrast to its Bush predecessors, who filled the career ranks of the Division with attorneys from across the political spectrum, the Obama political leadership has firmly slammed the door on conservatives, sanctioning ideological discrimination.

Today’s final segment focuses on the Appellate Section. This Section handles the appeals for all sections in the Civil Rights Division, and its work thus touches on every statute within the Division’s jurisdiction. It also files amicus curiae briefs in courts throughout the country, setting forth the Division’s position on various legal and policy matters. In essence, when it comes to articulating official policy, the Division often speaks through its Appellate Section.

The Section is headed by Obama contributor Diana Flynn, who went by the name David Flynn until commencing a sex change process. Flynn is assisted by two of the most fiercely partisan individuals in the Division — Mark Gross and Jessica Silver — which is quite a feat in that hotbed of craziness. The Section is perhaps second only to the Voting Section in terms of its concentration of liberal political activists. In fact, during the Bush administration, the political leadership was confronted on numerous occasions with career attorneys refusing to sign briefs because they disagreed with the positions being advanced by the administration on an ideological (not legal) basis. I’m certain there are no longer any such reservations with Eric Holder now at the wheel.

Seven new career attorneys have been hired into the Appellate Section during the Obama administration. Just as is the case with each of the other nine sections covered in this PJMedia series — the Voting Section, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, the Special Litigation Section, the Education Section, the Employment Litigation Section, the Coordination and Compliance and Section, the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, the Disability Rights Section, and the Criminal Sectionevery single one of these Appellate Section lawyers easily passes the Civil Rights Division’s liberal litmus test. The resumes tell the story:

Thomas Chandler: Mr. Chandler joined the Section after an eight-year stint as the chief of the Disability Rights Office at the Federal Communications Commission, a barren wasteland in terms of conservatives or even apolitical individuals. This is his second tour of duty in the Section; he previously served for 12 years in the Section but, in a common theme among many of the Division’s career lawyers, opted to leave (along with the Democratic political appointees) as soon as the Bush administration came to power. On his resume, he proudly highlights the fact that he helped develop many of the Division’s most radical positions on Title VII (including its policies endorsing racial preferences in employment) during the Clinton administration.

Erin Flynn: Ms. Flynn was hired into the Section as part of Attorney General Holder’s Honors Program, and her militantly activist background must have made her one of Holder’s top candidates. As a law student at Penn, she was the project manager of the “Reproductive Rights Clinic, Judicial Bypass Project,” which “coordinates with the Philadelphia Public Defender’s Office to assist pregnant minors in accessing Pennsylvania’s judicial bypass system” to attain abortions without parental consent.

She also worked as a fellow at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, where she “explored the admissibility of mental health evidence” to help plead insanity defense in juvenile proceedings.” Before that, she was a paralegal at the Legal Aid Society of New York.

Her activities are conspicuously redacted from her resume; no doubt the Justice Department felt that disclosing them would prove even more politically embarrassing to both Ms. Flynn and the attorney general.

Appellate Section attorneys have considerable latitude in drafting the policy-laden amicus briefs that the Division files in courts across the country, and it’s no surprise that Ms. Flynn has been tasked with authoring the most controversial (and radical) briefs during this administration. For example, she took the lead in the Division joining the ACLU in arguing that school assignment plans that rely on racial demographics to promote “diversity” are perfectly okay and do not demand strict scrutiny. (This position, incidentally, flatly repudiated Supreme Court precedent.) She also authored the amicus brief contending that a school district is liable for damages under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act even after it took disciplinary action against students for racially harassing other students. And she penned the Division’s legally dubious brief insisting that the state of Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirements for voting violate federal law. In short, when it comes time to take positions that have little or no support in law, Ms. Flynn is the go-to person.

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