Justice Deptartment Used Illegal|Ideological Criteria In Hiring Attorneys

     WASHINGTON – The Justice Department illegally used “political or ideological” criteria to recruit career attorneys, preferring law school graduates with conservative leanings rather than liberal-sounding ones, the Justice Department’s inspector general reported Tuesday. The report, written in response to the firings of nine U.S. attorneys, found that “many qualified” candidates were rejected because of their perceived liberal beliefs, and concluded that this hiring practice “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

     The inspector general’s report found that the discriminatory practices began in 2002, when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft gave political appointees in the Justice Department more control over hiring. It found that this trend accelerated in 2006 under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and that the practice was particularly severe in the civil rights division.

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