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

All 23 new hires to the Justice Department's Special Litigation office have far-left resumes — which were only released following a PJM lawsuit. (This is the fourth in a series of articles about the Justice Department's hiring practices since President Obama took office. Read parts one, two, and three.)

by
Hans A. von Spakovsky

Bio

August 16, 2011 - 12:00 am

Last week, PJMedia published the first three of a series of articles highlighting the new career attorneys hired into the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The first two articles focused on the Voting Section; the third article focused on the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.

Based on the resumes that PJMedia finally extracted from DOJ following a lengthy Freedom of Information Act battle, these stories show the absurdity of the left’s demagogic attacks on the Bush administration’s hiring practices. They also illustrate the hyper-politicized environment that has become the hallmark of the Justice Department under Eric Holder’s reign.

Today we feature the Division’s Special Litigation Section.

This Section is charged with enforcing federal civil rights statutes in the context of institutionalized persons, law enforcement agencies, and abortion clinics. The Section’s enforcement authority is supposed to be statutorily limited to situations involving a “pattern or practice” of unlawful or unconstitutional conduct by state or municipal government agencies. However, the attorneys in this unit enjoy incredibly broad discretion in deciding what investigations and cases to pursue, and their decisions often have significant financial (and political) consequences for their targets and taxpayers alike. Unfortunately, this power has been too often abused by the Section.

Anyone who doubts the havoc that renegade attorneys from the Special Litigation Section can inflict on municipal institutions need only read Heather MacDonald’s extraordinary piece — “Targeting the Police: The Holder Justice Department Declares Open Season on Big City Police Departments” — detailing the $100 million that the Los Angeles Police Department has been forced to incur as part of a draconian federal consent decree demanded by the Section’s legal staff. Or one can examine the (fortunately failed) efforts by Section attorneys during the Clinton administration to intimidate the state of New Jersey into radically modifying its law enforcement practices based on bogus allegations of racial profiling by state troopers.

Incredibly, the Section’s staff even tried to suppress the report that completely debunked the allegations. It was a sad state of affairs that eventually caused the Bush administration to have to remove the then-chief of the Section and force the line attorney involved to find alternative employment.

Some municipalities are finally beginning to fight back since Holder took power. In the past, most simply rolled over and agreed to whatever face-saving terms they could negotiate, even when they had not violated the law. Some simply succumbed to political pressure. Others assumed — wrongly — that the Section’s attorneys were apolitical and could be trusted to be fair and neutral in any investigation.

Reality is starting to set in, but there remains a long way to go. Any state or municipality that is even considering capitulating to the band of radicals occupying this Section owes it to itself to read this article. There have been 23 new career attorneys hired in the Section since the Obama administration came to office. Every single one has unequivocal liberal bona fides.

That’s what I call a real “pattern or practice” of ideological bias.

Jonathan Smith: Following the rather ignominious departure of the previous chief in 2010, the Civil Rights Division brought in Jonathan Smith to take the helm of the Special Litigation Section. And what a pick! Indeed, when it comes to liberal activists, Mr. Smith is right out of central casting. He served for eight years as executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and spent the four years prior to that as the executive director of the Public Justice Center, an organization whose stated mission is “to enforce and expand the rights of people who suffer injustice because of their poverty or discrimination.”

He also spent another nine years as a staff attorney and executive director of the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, advocating on behalf of criminals incarcerated in the nation’s capital. For local police departments that find themselves the subject of investigations by Mr. Smith’s shop, his biases will surely reinforce the notion that any expectation of neutrality in the Section’s probes is a pipe dream.

Shelly Jackson: Ms. Jackson was hired as one of the new deputy chiefs. Like many of her new colleagues, Ms. Jackson made a contribution ($450) to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Before arriving at Justice, she was an attorney and analyst in the Office for Civil Rights at both the Department of Education and the Department of Health & Human Services, two offices that are known to be hotbeds for liberal ideologues — conservatives need not apply. Ms. Jackson had an earlier stint with the Special Litigation Section during the Clinton administration, but in a theme common to many of the Division’s new civil service hires she opted to leave just before President Bush came into office. Earlier in her career, Ms. Jackson also worked as a staff attorney at two liberal non-profit organizations: the Center for Law and Education and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, which supported the nomination of Goodwin Liu, someone so extreme that he was filibustered in the Senate.

Christy Lopez: Ms. Lopez is another new deputy chief. She, too, gave $750 to Barack Obama during his 2008 run for office, and she contributed another $500 to Democratic Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado. It is difficult to fathom how Ms. Lopez can even pretend to be balanced and neutral in her new position. After all, until the moment she arrived at DOJ, she served on the ACLU of Maryland’s Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities. She also was vice president and a member of the Board of Directors of Casa de Maryland, a radical organization deeply hostile to immigration enforcement. As I have written before:

[Casa de Maryland] has encouraged illegal aliens not to speak with police officers or immigration agents; it has fought restrictions on illegal aliens’ receiving driver’s licenses; it has urged the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department not to enforce federal fugitive warrants; it has advocated giving illegal aliens in-state tuition; and it has actively promulgated “day labor” sites, where illegal aliens and disreputable employers openly skirt federal prohibitions on hiring undocumented individuals.

On her resume, Ms. Lopez proudly references the paper she authored for the liberal American Constitution Society, entitled “The Problem with ‘Contempt of Cop’ Arrests.” She also highlights the presentation she gave on “Flying While Brown” at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s annual convention. She has made numerous media appearances alleging post 9/11 ethnic profiling. She is also a founding partner of Independent Assessment and Monitoring, which provided oversight of police departments and prisons. Given her overtly partisan and ideologically militant background, it is hard to understand how any law enforcement agency would agree to have her serve as a monitor. Perhaps they simply weren’t aware of her activism when agreeing to her presence. One can only hope these institutions don’t make a similar mistake in the future. Like Ms. Jackson (and so many others), Ms. Lopez also worked as a line attorney in the Special Litigation Section during the Clinton years, but just like Clinton’s political appointees, departed immediately after the Bush administration arrived in the White House.

(Incidentally, although this article is about the new hires into the civil service ranks of the Special Litigation Section, it is worth noting that the four other deputy chiefs promoted by Eric Holder who now serve under Mr. Smith have almost equally impressive liberal track records. One (Julie Abbate) was arrested at a World Bank protest, another (Mary Bohan) has made sizable contributions to the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and John Kerry, the third (Bo Tayloe) worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the fourth (Judy Preston) is known by all as one of the biggest bleeding hearts in the Division. In short, anyone looking for even a hint of ideological balance in the Section’s leadership will be sorely disappointed. Targets of the Section’s enforcement efforts have been duly warned.)

Tiffany Austin: Ms. Austin is a new line attorney who joined the Section from private practice in Ohio. She did, however, spend time in Washington during law school, clerking for “Bread for the City,” a liberal civil rights organization that describes itself as the “front line agency serving Washington’s poor.” The recipient of an NAACP scholarship, she also served on the Executive Board of the Black Law Students Association at Notre Dame Law School.

The Justice Department conspicuously redacted a number of the other professional affiliations from her resume in its FOIA response, so there was likely some type of politically embarrassing information on Ms. Austin that DOJ did not want made public.

Deena Fox: Before arriving in the Section, Ms. Fox worked as a Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Prior to that, she worked for the Children’s Rights Clinic at Legal Aid, clerked for the Public Defender’s Service for the District of Columbia, interned at the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and was a Fellow at the New York City Urban Fellows Program. During law school, she served as editor-in-chief of a journal entitled Review of Law & Social Change, and volunteered for the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee on the Civil Rights Agenda.

Winsome Gayle: Ms. Gayle is a financial thoroughbred for the Democratic Party. FEC records reveal that she contributed nearly $5,600 to Obama in the 2008 campaign, and gave another $200 in 2009 to a very liberal (and ultimately unsuccessful) congressional Democratic candidate in Kansas, Raj Goyle. She worked as a staff attorney at the Public Defender’s Service for the District of Columbia, interned at the ACLU in New York, and clerked for a liberal federal judge in Florida appointed by President Clinton.

How radical is Ms. Gayle? After arriving in the Civil Rights Division, she spoke on a panel at American University Law School during which she openly criticized the prosecution of drug crimes! She claimed that “the enforcement of the drug laws tend to encourage racial profiling.”

The fact that a current Justice employee would make such comments in a public forum is not only disturbing, but it shows just how extreme the Civil Rights Division has become. Incidentally, she applied for a judgeship in the District of Columbia in 2010 but was fortunately passed over. Although her resume does evidence the kind of “putting empathy above the law” that this president prefers.

During law school, Ms. Gayle was a member of the Harvard Civil Liberties Union, Harvard Law School Lambda, the Harvard Black Law Students Association, and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. In fact, she continues to be the head of the Washington chapter of the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus. She also wrote her undergraduate thesis on “Consensual Sodomy Laws: The Place of Morality in Law Where Justice is Concerned.”

Emily Gunston: Ms. Gunston arrived at Justice after working for nearly 10 years as a public defender in Contra Costa County, California. While a law student at Berkeley, she also interned at the Homeless Action Center. One can almost hear the hiring committee: “Check, and check.”

Anika Gzifa: Ms. Gzifa also fits right in with the new crop of attorneys. Prior to joining the Civil Rights Division, she advocated for the release of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, claiming that he was nothing more than a poor soldier. Khadr is a Canadian citizen who was taken into military custody during hostilities in Afghanistan and assigned to Gitmo, classified as an enemy combatant, and charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. He is slated to be tried before a military commission. Ms. Gzifa signed on to a letter sent to President Obama pleading Khadr’s innocence and urging his release. The administration was apparently unmoved, as was the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court, both of which have denied Mr. Khadr’s request for relief.

Ms. Gzifa penned her plea on behalf of Khadr while working as a supervisory attorney at the Children’s Law Center in Washington. She affiliated with that organization right out of law school, where she was a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project and an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

Charles Hart: Mr. Hart comes to the Special Litigation after representing unions at a private law firm in New York. Prior to his time there, he represented criminal defendants at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. He also served as the coordinator for the Capital Research Project in North Carolina, where he performed research on death penalty cases in the state. During law school, he interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the NYU Juvenile Rights Clinic, and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. And he was an editor of the Review of Law and Social Change journal. His resume just screams balance and neutrality, doesn’t it?

Vincent Herman: Mr. Herman worked as a staff attorney at the Children’s Law Center and the Juvenile Law Center before moving to the Civil Rights Division. While a law student, he clerked for the Public Defender’s Service for the District of Columbia and served as an advocate at the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project. He also previously worked as a coordinator of the AIDS Face-to-Face Program for HIV/AIDS Services at Catholic Charities of the East Bay in Oakland, Calif.

Michelle Jones: Another activist Democrat, Ms. Jones contributed at least $750 to President Obama’s campaign during the 2008 election cycle. She was also a volunteer for the Election Protection Project, which is sponsored by the NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, People for the American Way, and the National Bar Association. Ms. Jones also joined with a multitude of left-wing organizations in 2009 to organize a conference at Howard University Law School on “Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Public Education Policy.”

Curiously, the Justice Department redacted her other activities from the resume it released, but you get the picture.

Alyssa Lareau: Ms. Lareau’s resume contains all the requisite criteria to get hired by Holder’s Civil Rights Division. She worked at the liberal Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, interned at the National Women’s Law Center (a hard-core left-wing organization that has lobbied for greater abortion rights, opposed all Republican Supreme Court nominations, and in recent years partnered with the AFL-CIO and MoveOn.org to oppose Obama’s supposed move to the center), and served as a Fellow at the Human Rights Campaign (which advocates on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community). She also volunteered for the ABA’s Detention Standards Implementation Initiative, which has attacked the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security for not providing sufficiently luxurious detention facilities for illegal aliens. Her law review note at Georgetown, which she wrote while serving as a research assistant to the truly extreme Professor Chai Feldblum, was entitled “Who Decides: Genital Normalizing Surgery on Intersexed Infants.”

Michelle Leung: Ms. Leung joined the Section after a brief stint at a San Francisco law firm, where it appears she spent most of her time working on pro bono matters, including a FOIA lawsuit on behalf of the ACLU claiming that the Department of Homeland Security’s detention of illegal aliens was somehow improper because some of the aliens hadn’t committed criminal acts. Her view made sense considering that she had interned at the ACLU of Northern California for two years during law school at Berkeley. She also interned for the Public Defender’s Office in San Francisco and the California Appellate Project, where she worked on death-row representation.

As an undergraduate at Stanford, Ms. Leung was a member of the Students of Color Coalition and wrote her senior thesis on “Multiracial Coalition Politics in California: Analyzing Propositions 187, 209, and 227.” She also produced a documentary film and authored a related blog entitled “Recycling Fear” in which she lamented the criticism of radical Islam after 9/11.

To quote the blog’s description of the documentary:

The late 90s saw a rise in the depiction of Muslims as America’s newest enemy and Islam as the world’s biggest threat to democracy. The growing perception of a Muslim threat crystallized on September 11, 2001. Recycling Fear: The New American Enemy examines the impact that manufactured national fear has on constitutionally protected rights and civil liberties. Through the stories of individuals accused of terrorism and the lawyers that defend them, the documentary seeks to explore the question whether or not such fear really moves us towards global security. In the course of answering this question, Recycling Fear documents various forms of discrimination against individuals who are Muslim and perceived to be Muslim.

Leung was quoted in the Stanford Public Service Scholars Program 2005 annual report:

 [I want to use the] law as a social tool that can be used to advocate on behalf of minorities in our criminal justice system. Accepted social systems (academia, law) can be used in powerful ways to work towards so­cial justice, even if this may not have been their originally designed purpose.

Now she will have an opportunity to put those activist desires into use with the heavy hand of the federal government.

Jennifer Mondino: After working at the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group, Ms. Mondino apparently decided that her work would be easier if she had the enforcement machinery of the Department of Justice behind her. She previously served as a staff attorney at the Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Law Project in Brooklyn and an attorney in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. On her resume, she proudly lists her volunteer activities with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Campaign, the Legal Aid Society, the New York City Bar Refugee Assistance Project, the “Unite! Local 169 Fair Wages Campaign” (on behalf of Spanish-speaking green grocer employees), Bay Area Legal Aid, and Human Rights Watch. She also proudly touts her membership in the “National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights”, whose website openly proclaims its real desire “to spread understanding of liberal ideas and advance progressive values.”

Jack Morse: Mr. Morse comes to the Civil Rights Division straight out of law school, during which time he interned for the ACLU of Georgia’s National Security/Immigrant Rights Project and for the Georgia Innocence Project. He also helped draft reports for the ACLU suggesting that the “287(g) program” (which allows local law enforcement to participate in enforcement of federal immigration laws) contributes to racial profiling and should be eliminated. Anyone still confused by Mr. Morse’s views might peruse his law review article in which he argues that the federal government may not legitimately classify material support of terrorism as a war crime (!) and that the U.S. thus improperly tried Salim Hamdan (OBL’s driver) by military commission. Mr. Morse must have a great relationship with new attorney Aaron Zisser (see below), who also has written favorably of Salim Hamdan. It’s nice to know that there are so many advocates of Guantanamo Bay terrorists in the Special Litigation Section.

Marlysha Myrthil: Before getting hired, Ms. Myrthil enjoyed a very brief stint as a Fellow at a private law firm in Florida, where she worked exclusively on pro bono civil rights matters. Most of her cases seem to have involved litigation demanding improved educational programming for pre-trial detainees. Prior to that, she clerked for a liberal Clinton appointee on the Eleventh Circuit and interned at a Public Defender’s Office in Indiana.

It was as an undergraduate at Barnard, however, where Ms. Myrthil really excelled. There, she was the president of the “Black Organization of Soul Sisters” (founded in 1968 as “an outgrowth of alienation and black nationalism”) and a member of the Barnard College Democrats. She wrote her senior thesis on “Fundamental Rights v. Autonomy: The Case for Welfare Rights in the United States.” She also penned a newspaper editorial claiming that Columbia University — a bastion of political correctness and liberal bent — was filled with “pervasive racism.” She criticized an apparently satirical cartoon as “exploiting the First Amendment” and demanded that university administrators take action. Apparently, it was a case of “free speech for me, but not for thee.” She’ll fit in nicely in Holder’s Civil Rights Division.

Rashida Ogletree: The daughter of Obama pal and Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, Ms. Ogletree joined the Section after working as a staff attorney at the District of Columbia Public Defender’s Office. Before that, she had interned at the Legal Action Center, which describes itself as “the only non-profit law and policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas.” She also participated in the Brennan Center for Public Policy Advocacy Clinic, where she worked on efforts to give voting rights to convicted felons. Leaving no activist stone unturned, she preceded those activities with internships at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and the EEOC, as well as a gig as the Education and Enforcement Coordinator for the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston. And to top it all off, she served as an editor of the “progressive” Review of Law and Social Change at NYU Law School.

Sergio Perez: Mr. Perez is another attorney fresh out of law school. As of the date this article was drafted, he continued to boast on his Facebook page of his active role in Junta for Progressive Action, an organization that promotes the rights of illegal aliens in the United States. From the group’s website:

Junta has worked with Unidad Latina to promote rights for the undocumented, encouraging [a Connecticut mayor] to issue a municipal identity card. … Immigrant rights groups, such as Fair Haven-based Junta for Progressive Action, are working with the city’s police department to establish a policy that would forbid police from asking about the legal status of immigrants who are crime victims or turning over any such information to federal immigration authorities.

Mr. Perez also was the student director of Yale Law School’s Legal Services for Immigrant Communities Clinic and the co-director of the school’s Human Rights Project. He clerked one summer at a large law firm, but appears to have spent all of his time there working on a habeas corpus petition on behalf of a death-row inmate in Louisiana.

Upon arriving in the Civil Rights Division, Mr. Perez began working on the Special Litigation Section’s investigation (or, as I have previously written at length, harassment) of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Detention Facility because of the Sheriff’s participation in the federal 287(g) program. His team leader on the case is none other than Avner Shapiro, another ideological attorney whose wife is Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, who has made it clear to Voting Section employees that she does not believe in the race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws. If Perez isn’t already radicalized, he soon will be after working with Shapiro.

Catherine Pugh: When it comes to liberal activists, Ms. Pugh easily fits the bill. Arriving in the Section straight from the California Western School of Law, she appears to be on a long-term crusade to harass law enforcement and exact some sort of revenge for unspecified grievances. Upon winning a California Bar Foundation scholarship, she proclaimed:

I have worked in the legal industry as long as I have worked — most recently in prisons throughout the state — and I fully intend to apply my law degree to policing abuses of public trust.

The mission started as early as her undergraduate days at Howard University, where she wrote her senior thesis on “The Cumulative Effect of Race in Arrest, Charging, Trial, and Sentencing.”

During law school, Pugh worked as a research assistant at the California Innocence Project and served as director of the Amity Foundation, which provides oversight for a new-age drug treatment center and analyzes data on the treatment of underrepresented populations. She also won a Weiner Scholarship, which is awarded to a student who “shows sensitivity and concern with human rights and the fair administration of justice.”

(Amusingly, her law school did a write-up on her in which it claimed that she “was chosen as one of four people in the nation to intern in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.” This statement is preposterously false.)

Lori Rifkin: Ms. Rifkin’s resume must have had the new “non-political” hiring committee in the Civil Rights Division salivating with excitement. She worked as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center in San Francisco and a small plaintiff’s firm in the same city litigating class action lawsuits on behalf of state prison inmates. She also had multiple stints of employment with the ACLU, serving as a staff attorney in Los Angeles and Hartford and an intern in New York. Although her activities covered the gamut there, she seemed to concentrate on prisoners’ rights litigation and gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender advocacy. In one of her more odd cases at the ACLU, she sued the City of Santa Barbara, claiming that the city’s decision to operate a homeless shelter only during the winter months violated the constitutional rights of the homeless.

Prior to her time with the ACLU, Ms. Rifkin clerked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, participated in the liberal Brennan Center for Public Policy Advocacy Clinic, and led a workshop at the Yale Law School Rebellious Lawyering Conference, where she protested the JAG Corps recruiting on the law school campus. She also authored a real page-turner of an article in the Journal of Lesbian Studies entitled: “The Suit Suits Whom? Lesbian-Gender, Female Masculinity, and Women-in-Suits.” She proudly notes on her resume that this article was co-published simultaneously in a book entitled Femme/Butch: New Considerations of the Way We Want to Go.

Michael Songer: Mr.Songer, a $200 contributor to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, worked at a large Washington law firm. His resume highlights his pro bono work there on Sossamon v. Texas, which his firm lost in the Supreme Court. They argued unsuccessfully in Sossamon that states waived their sovereign immunity against private lawsuits filed by prison inmates seeking money damages merely because they accepted federal funds. During law school, he worked for the Capital Jury Project, where he conducted research against capital punishment. He also wrote a law review article on “The Effect of Race, Gender, and Location on Prosecutorial Decisions to Seek the Death Penalty in South Carolina,” in which he suggests that prosecutors seek the death penalty in a racially discriminatory manner.

Although his internship for former Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings is listed on his resume, the Civil Rights Division opted to redact the rest of his activities.

Samantha Trepel: It is easy to see why Ms. Trepel was hired. She comes fresh off two judicial clerkships, including one with Ninth Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas, one of the most liberal jurists in the country. During law school, she interned for the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the Children’s Rights organization, which was launched by the ACLU. She also served as co-chair of her law school’s chapter of the American Constitution Society and helped organize the American Constitution Society’s Reading Group on “Poverty & Opportunity,” a so-called “progressive workshop.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Trepel has wasted little time in inviting controversy since arriving in the Special Litigation Section. She launched an investigation of Alamance County, North Carolina, claiming that its use of the 287(g) program (by which local law enforcement can assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law) has led to improper racial profiling and discriminatory policing. But county commissioners accused her of leaking her investigatory letters to the media before sending them to opposing counsel. If she did engage in such improper leaking, she would be in good company among attorneys in the Civil Rights Division who leaked confidential internal legal opinions over Georgia’s voter ID law and the Texas congressional redistricting plan when those matters were being reviewed by the Division.

Aaron Zisser: Mr. Zisser joined the Special Litigation Section after working as a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, a branch of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Before that, he was a fellow at “Human Rights First,” where he traveled to Guantanamo Bay to observe the prosecution of Osama Bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, before a military tribunal. He wrote a series of blog posts for the liberal American Constitution Society criticizing the prosecution of detainees and suggesting that such terrorists were being deprived of their rights (see here, here, here, and here).

Before graduating to his criticism of U.S. terrorism policies, Mr. Zisser interned at the ACLU, the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Orleans Parish (La.) Indigent Defender Board, and the Santa Clara County (Calif.) Public Defender’s Office. A proud member of the American Constitution Society, he also participated in Georgetown Law School’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, where he advocated greater reproductive rights (read: abortion) for women. It should thus come as no surprise that, soon after arriving in the Civil Rights Division, Mr. Zisser made it a top priority to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (the “FACE Act”) against an elderly pro-life advocate. The president of government watchdog Judicial Watch charged that the case was politically motivated and that the “complaint seems like it was written more by Planned Parenthood than discerning professional lawyers.”

 

What these 23 new Special Litigation Section civil servants represent is a solidification of the already extreme liberalism that forms the core of that unit. And note that while there were numerous lawyers hired who worked at public defenders or for advocacy organizations for criminals and prisoners, not a single lawyer was hired with experience as a prosecutor or in law enforcement in a Section which has as one its main jobs investigating the practices of local police. Do local jurisdictions really think they will get a fair, nonpartisan, objective hearing from the lawyers in this Section?

None of this is an accident. Eric Holder and Thomas Perez (not to mention Barack Obama himself) astutely recognize that personnel is policy. Just as installing a Supreme Court nominee will help a president put his imprimatur on the law for decades, burrowing these ideologues into the career civil service of the Justice Department will help Democrats and liberals ensure that their policy views are well entrenched in the bureaucracy, regardless of who controls the White House in the years ahead.

No one is suggesting any of these individuals’ activist backgrounds disqualifies them from working as attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. The point is that such liberal bona fides appear to be a prerequisite for employment in the Division — there is no other explanation for this. These resumes are an example of a legal doctrine that law students learn in their first year: res ipsa loquitur — “the thing speaks for itself.”

The public must be reminded that, notwithstanding the breathless attacks from the liberal blogosphere, the fact remains that the Bush administration never engaged in this type of monolithic ideological hiring.

While a handful of ancient sarcastic emails have been thrown around to suggest some sort of nefarious conspiracy, the fact remains that individuals were hired from all across the political spectrum. Even in the Civil Rights Division sections that got so much press attention during the faux political scandals that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee ginned up, dozens of liberals were hired and promoted in just the three-year time period that was the subject of those politically motivated probes.

Yet you find nary a token conservative among the Holder/Obama hires. Meanwhile, the press has gone suddenly silent. Where is the outrage now?

Perhaps in today’s hyper-politicized environment, where legacy media institutions have devolved into little more than political platforms for outspoken “journalists” and producers, this is what we should come to expect. But put aside for a moment the fact that good reputations were sullied with attacks whose foundations were so weak that they crumble at the touch. The real concern is that, with the Department of Justice, the stakes are incredibly high.

How can the public (not to mention state and local governmental institutions) have any confidence in a federal agency that is entirely dominated, from top to bottom, by the political and ideological supporters of the White House? In the past, Democrats would have counted on the media simply ignoring these political shenanigans. Fortunately, with the advent of new media, those days are over.

And PJMedia has more stories to tell. Stay tuned.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. He is the coauthor of the book “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”.
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