Thursday, May 31, 2007

Partisanship at the Justice Department???

Who would have thought it????

The Boston Globe reports that two offices in the Justice Department, the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility, have notified Congress that they are investigating whether civil service hiring rules were violated by, among other things, favoring conservative Repubs for jobs in the Civil Rights Division. The probe will also examine whether hiring decisions elsewhere in the department were made according to a political litmus test--something that Monica Goodling pretty much admitted in her testimony last week.

OK, there's not much new in the story. Should we care that the Justice Department is investigating itself? Isn't that a case of the fox looking over the chicken coop? Perhaps, but I think, and hope, that there is enough professionalism left in the Department, especially in the two offices handling the investigation, that the results will be pretty much free of political influence.

One of the geniuses of the American system of government since the New Deal was that we managed to keep professional government activities pretty much separate from political considerations, even in departments that were led by political appointees. One of the great, though largely-unrecognized crimes of Bush and his cronies has been their assault on that separation. We can only hope that the next (Democratic) president will give some attention and spend some energy on re-establishing a credible and effective civil service.

No comments: