Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder was grilled by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday regarding primarily the Fast and Furious gun sting operation that went awry. However, he was also asked other fundamental and general management questions about the Justice Department he heads up.
“The last administration was cited for political hiring within the civil rights division. Have you continued that political hiring in violation of the law?” asked Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia Democrat.
“We hire people in the Civil Rights Division on the basis of their experience. Their commitment to that which the Civil Rights Division has historically stood for—people who are going to be good litigators. People who are going to work hard. We don’t hire people on the basis of political or ideological affiliations,” General Holder responded.
A.G. Holder’s response was curious, as Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation Hans von Spakovsky showed that the attorneys who have been hired since Holder was appointed have only been explicitly from the activist ideological Left. Here are a number of Eric Holder hires that Mr. Spakovsky wrote about at PJ Media: (bolding is mine)
Bryan Sells:Mr. Sells was recently hired as one of the Voting Section’s new deputy chiefs. He comes to the Department from the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where he worked for nearly 10 years as a Senior Staff Counsel. During his tenure, his organization strongly opposed all voter ID laws, and challenged the right of states to verify the U.S. citizenship of individuals seeking to register to vote. He also characterized state felon disenfranchisement laws – which are expressly authorized in the Constitution — as a “slap in the face to democracy,” and consistently took the most aggressive (and generally legally unsupportable) positions on redistricting cases throughout the country.
Meredith Bell-Platts:The other new deputy chief hired by the Voting Section, Meredith Bell-Platts, also comes from the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where she, too, spent nearly 10 years. Much of her time there was devoted to blasting voter ID requirements, which she claimed were motivated by people who do not want to see blacks vote (an issue on which she consistently lost in court). Before arriving at the ACLU, Ms. Bell-Platts was a founding member of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, a publication whose stated “mission is to explore the impact of gender, sexuality, and race on both the theory and practice of law” and thereby “complement a long tradition of feminist scholarship and advocacy at the [Georgetown] Law Center.”
Anna Baldwin:While all of the new trial attorneys hired into the Voting Section have streaks of radicalism, few can match Ms. Baldwin. A financial contributor to the Obama presidential campaign, she clerked for two liberal Clinton appointees on the federal bench and then worked briefly at Jenner & Block (a D.C. law firm which has been a major feeder of Democratic political appointees to the Obama administration), where she primarily pursued liberal positions in pro bono litigation. During law school, she interned at the International Labor Rights Fund and Women’s Agenda for Change.
Prior to that, Baldwin served for three years as field coordinator for Equality Florida, where she “coordinated lobbying and state legislative policy work on behalf of Florida’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities.” Meanwhile, in her undergraduate days at Harvard, she was a member of the “Queer Resistance Front” and was frequently covered in the Harvard Crimson for her radical antics. A review of these campus newspaper articles suggests that Ms. Baldwin will have to work very hard to separate her activist politics from her role as an apolitical civil servant. Then again, if she takes her cues from most of her Voting Section colleagues, she won’t even need to attempt such separation. As the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case showed, partisanship and law enforcement are one and the same in Holder’s Civil Rights Division.
Risa Berkower: Ms. Berkower was hired into the Voting Section following a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney, a liberal jurist who President Obama recently nominated to the Second Circuit and whose brother is the former state chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party. During law school at Fordham, she interned in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, a notorious hotbed of left-wing activity. She also worked on the “Student Hurricane Network” with members of the NAACP LDF, the Advancement Project, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. It was in her undergraduate days at Yale, though, that she really let her left-wing political colors shine. While on the Yale College Council, she wrote an editorial advocating support of unionization of Yale graduate students and advocated “neutrality” in card-check reform (which has become a major Obama initiative as a sop to organized labor).
Spakovsy goes further…
Daniel Freeman: Mr. Freeman comes to the Voting Section following a fellowship at the New York Civil Liberties Union. He previously interned at the ACLU, where he assisted the organization with its efforts to attack the Bush administration’s national security policies. He also helped to challenge the “state secrets privilege” and to support the rights of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay during an internship at Human Rights First.
On his resume, Freeman proudly notes his membership in the liberal American Constitution Society, as well as his service as co-chair of the Yale Law School Democrats. Of course, being a member of the American Constitution Society does not bar you from federal employment. Yet the Bush administration was castigated for hiring lawyers who were members of the Federalist Society. Incidentally, Mr. Freeman is helping lead the Voting Section’s review of redistricting submissions from the state of Alabama.
Jenigh Garrett: Ms. Garrett worked for approximately five years as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), where she worked on voting-related litigation. She co-drafted the NAACP LDF’s amicus brief in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, claiming that voter ID laws are unconstitutional (a position the Supreme Court rejected in an opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens).
Garrett also was a member of the organization’s litigation team in Hayden v. Paterson, arguing that felon disenfranchisement laws violate the Voting Rights Act (a position the Second Circuit rejected). She is a member of the American Constitution Society and recently gave a presentation at Yale Law School on “The Future of Black Legal Scholarship and Activism.” Although DOJ’s FOIA shop notably redacted her other activities on her resume, perhaps legislators in Virginia can ask her about them: she is the redistricting point of contact for the Commonwealth.
Abel Gomez: Mr. Gomez initially came to the Voting Section in the waning days of the Clinton administration as part of a wave of hiring engineered by former Acting Assistant Attorney General Bill Yeomans. The intent: stack the Civil Rights Division with left-wing activists before President Bush took office. Gomez had previously served for six years as a public defender in Tallahassee, Florida. In 2007, he left the Civil Rights Division to join another component of the Department of Justice, but was eager to rejoin the Voting Section once Obama and Holder were in charge. In addition to his voting work, FEC records reveal that he is a significant financial contributor to the “Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund” and to organizations opposing California’s Proposition 8 (Marriage Protection Act).
Bradley Heard:Before joining the Voting Section, Mr. Heard worked for a number of years at the Advancement Project, a radical left-wing voting organization. The Advancement Project has worked closely with the ACLU, NAACP LDF, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and other liberal advocates to oppose voter ID statutes, felon disenfranchisement laws, and citizenship verification regulations, and to take myriad other militant positions on state and federal voting rights laws. Mr. Heard fit right in at the Advancement Project, having previously founded the Georgia Voter Empowerment Project, which describes its mission as increasing the “civic participation levels of progressive-minded Georgians.”
Amusingly, before moving to Washington, Mr. Heard had a nasty breakup with his plaintiff’s civil rights firm in Atlanta. He commenced litigation against his partners, who in turn claimed he was engaging in misconduct. Heard then sought criminal arrest warrants against his former partners, charging that they had engaged in false voter registration and voting by an unqualified elector, both felonies. The court declined to issue the warrants. South Carolina officials can ask Mr. Heard about these events during his review of the state’s redistricting submission; after all, he is the point of contact for the Voting Section.
Spakovsky lists more Holder hires that are blatantly liberal in nature. Lachlan Markay over at Heritage notes that of the 15 lawyers hired under Holder:
“Social justice,” “gender identity,” “human rights,” “diversity,” and other such politically correct buzzwords pepper the summary of these hires’ professional backgrounds and educations. Attorneys have worked to give convicted felons voting rights, and asylum to illegal immigrants. Conspicuously absent is any hire who has devoted his or her career to constitutional scholarship or – heaven forbid – criminal prosecution or civil defense.
For Mr. Holder to say that this DOJ he leads does not use a political litmus test for their hires is laughable to say the least if not completely false.