DOJ, Diversity, and Low Expectations

Recently released documents show that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to perpetuate a system of racial spoils and promote what George W. Bush called the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

At its core, the American civil rights movement was a struggle to obtain equality before the law for all citizens. The intent of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to end racial discrimination in public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc.) and programs that receive federal funds.

Over the years, however, the movement evolved into a system in which our government sought to increase "minority representation" (typically blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians) in government jobs by discriminating against whites and non-preferred minorities (Asians). Equality before the law became an empty slogan.

For example, fire and police departments are under pressure to lower hiring and promoting standards because blacks disproportionately score lower on civil service exams. In March, the Department of Justice ordered the city of Dayton, Ohio, to lower passing rates on the written police recruitment exam.

The police department had used an internally created written exam to screen police applicants, and the fire department required candidates to have EMT-Basic and Firefighter I and II certifications at the time of application. Blacks scored lower on the exam and lacked these certifications at higher rates. The DOJ filed suit against the city and announced to the world that the standards were too high for minorities. According to the complaint, about 68 percent of whites and 29 percent of blacks passed the most recent exam. Blacks who passed scored lower than whites.

The DOJ ordered Dayton to submit new recruitment and testing plans, and the city hired consulting firm Fire & Police Selection, Inc., to develop a new exam. Judicial Watch, a nonprofit group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, obtained documents related to the suit and last week released several hundred pages that revealed how the DOJ pressured Dayton to drop standards.

According to released documents, the government apparently had no significant problems with the new plans. Unfortunately, blacks scored disproportionately lower on the new exam. Only when scores were calculated did the DOJ object. In February 2011, DOJ Senior Attorney Barbara Thawley wrote that the use of the written exam violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and suggested the city score the exam as pass/fail. She also raised objections to the written firefighter exam and said it seemed "very unlikely that an entry-level firefighter would have to do much writing."