EDITORIAL: Holder’s “severe mental deficiency”

Justice Department takes affirmative action to crazy extremes

You don’t have to have a severe intellectual disability to work at the Justice Department. But it helps.

According to a July 31 policy memo titled “Hiring of persons with targeted disabilities,” otherwise problematic mental deficiencies are no barrier to jump-starting a career at Justice. The memo lists a number of “targeted disabilities” that trigger special hiring privileges in compliance with President Obama’s Executive Order 13548. Among them are people with “severe intellectual disability,” “psychiatric disability” or other undefined “current severe physical, intellectual or mental conditions.” Most employers would balk at even minor mental disabilities in hiring a lawyer, let alone severe ones. But the policy states that the Cabinet department run by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. must “achieve a work force from all segments of society,” which includes those who are teetering on the edge of sanity.

Mr. Holder’s crazy new human-resources priority says it’s necessary to ensure that people with targeted disabilities “have equal employment opportunities.” It then goes into detail on all the ways in which they will be given special, exclusive treatment. The disabled are eligible for direct hiring in a “streamlined, non-competitive appointment” process that the policy lauds as a “win-win” for the department and the applicant. Of course, this preferential treatment is a lose-lose for the other, perhaps vastly more qualified applicants who were never let in the door, as well as for American taxpayers who cannot benefit from a superior level of public service.

Targeted mentally challenged individuals may be hired for unadvertised positions in a secret, closed-door process that otherwise would be strictly illegal. Standard requirements for prior work experience may be waived so that those who most need to prove they are up to the task don’t have to. Once hired, some of these special hires may have their privileged Schedule A appointments converted into career civil-service positions.

After detailing the numerous special exceptions, benefits and other provisions afforded targeted individuals, the policy reiterates the principles in Title 5 of the U.S. Code that people only be hired “after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity.” However, by design, the policy is not fair, the process is not open, and it only extends opportunity to a select few.

The potential for abuse is enormous. The grab-bag category of undefined “current severe physical, intellectual or mental conditions” is elastic enough to allow or encourage fraud, with or without the complicity of people making hiring decisions. People may self-identify disability status on the government’s Standard Form 256, which states that information provided “will be used for statistical purposes only and will not in any way affect you individually.” As the Justice Department policy makes clear, this flatly is not true.

Affirmative action has gone far astray from its origins as a means of correcting specific acts of unlawful discrimination. The Justice Department’s new policy reveals that special preferences are being used actively to deny opportunities to otherwise well- or better-qualified job seekers in the name of an abstract view of fairness. Ironically under the first black president, the federal hiring process is separate and unequal.

The Washington Times

H/t to The PJ Tatler

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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