Monday, April 09, 2007

Influential Regent

Yesterday's Boston Globe has a story written by Charlie Savage about Regent University Law School, one of whose graduates, Monica Goodling, is at the center of the attorney firings scandal at the Justice Department. Goodling resigned her position at the Justice Department last week.

I had been unaware of how many Regent graduates are now working for the Bush administration, but learned that more than 150 Regent alumni have been hired, and some of them are in extremely influential positions. This is because in 2001 Kay Coles James, the dean of Regent's government school, was made the director of the Office of Personnel Management--"essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni." Things were made even easier when then Attorney General John Ashcroft "changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks. Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools." Thus the Justice Department was set on a path where academic credentials mattered less than political credentials.

According to Savage, "Goodling...has become the face of Regent overnight--and drawn a harsh spotlight to the administration's hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations." Further, Savage points out, "across the political blogosphere, critics have held up a prime example of the Bush administration subordinating ability to politics in hiring decisions." Goodling was intimately involved with the decision to fire the US attorneys; yet she herself was a recent law school graduate (1999), and had "scant prosecutorial experience." How could she be consisdered qualified to evaluate the performance of US attorneys?

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Charlie Savage is becoming one of my personal heroes for his excellent coverage of legal/political issues. The blog comments about Regent U. Law School that he reproduces are the sort that you never want to read about your own school:

"That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the DOJ."