The downward spiral of the Civil Rights Division

Seems that the recent behavior of the Justice Department is part of a greater trend towards conservatism and a not-so-gradual rollback of what little progress has been made towards true equality and civil rights. From Prometheus 6: Civil Rights Focus Shift Roils Staff At Justice:

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which has enforced the nation’s anti-discrimination laws for nearly half a century, is in the midst of an upheaval that has driven away dozens of veteran lawyers and has damaged morale for many of those who remain, according to former and current career employees.

Nearly 20 percent of the division’s lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration’s conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.

At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.

It’s also clear that conservatives who never much liked civil rights legislation in the first place are now doing all they can to twist it so that it can be used for their own, decidedly unjust purposes.

The Bush administration has filed only three lawsuits — all of them this year — under the section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits discrimination against minority voters, and none of them involves discrimination against blacks. The initial case was the Justice Department’s first reverse-discrimination lawsuit, accusing a majority-black county in Mississippi of discriminating against white voters.

2 Responses to “The downward spiral of the Civil Rights Division”

  1. 1 Denise Jones

    The Division needs to look at the blatant racism and elitism shapes its own culture before pointing its finger at other organizations.

    The same mouthpieces who publicly slam organizations about the absence of (free-thinking) black and/or Latino voices in management are the very ones who themselves resent and resist reporting to black or Latino managers.

  2. 2 Radfem

    I’ve dealt with this division before. It’s not that strong under the Democrats either. The lawyers work hard at the bottom, but the decisions made at the top, ugh.

    I was interviewed by them and the U.S. Attorneys for a pattern and practice investigation of the local police department. I left with some feeling of concern on their part, but my interview was right before Bush came in, so less feeling of concern. Not to mention the USDOJ’s complete inability to deal with retaliation against people who are interviewed by them in civil rights investigations.

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