Fundies Rise Quickly Bush’s Justice Department
A 1995 graduate of Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, Goodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. Her chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and, thus, His image). A former career official there told The Washington Post that Goodling “forced many very talented career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points.” And as she rose at Justice, a former classmate said, Goodling “developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government, always ready to offer encouragement and be a sounding board.”
Goodling is one of 150 graduates of Regent University who have served in this administration, as Regent’s Web site proudly proclaims. Pretty impressive for a 29-year-old school. The university says that “approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work.” And that’s precisely what its founder desired. The school’s motto is “Christian Leadership to Change the World.”
Jeffrey A. Brauch, the law school’s dean, urges that students reflect upon “the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system.” Jason Eige (Class of ’99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter: “Your Résumé Is God’s Instrument.”
This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of Ashcroft — a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word “pride,” as well as the phrase “no higher calling than public service,” on documents bearing his signature. No surprise that, as he began transforming the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.
One of Ashcroft’s most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, started in 1957 to fight racial discrimination in voting. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the Civil Rights Division brought no voting cases — and only one employment case — on behalf of an African American. Instead, the division took up the “civil rights” abuses of reverse discrimination — claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out “even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans.” In his view, the fight for a student’s right to read a Bible in school is as urgent as the right to vote.
This article also suggests that Kyle D. Sampson, Alberto Gonzalez’s Chief of Staff, was also picked due to his religious views as well.
Religiosity. A Utah-born Mormon, Sampson first came over to the Justice Department as a top aide to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. “Some people think you should never talk about religion and politics, and, like me, General Ashcroft thinks those are the two most interesting things to talk about,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune in 2005. “So, that’s what we talk about–doctrinal things. What’s your belief in God?” Upon Sampson’s appointment to the Bush administration, the Mormon Church’s website reported: “Sampson said President Bush is a committed follower of Christ, which makes him a great boss.”
Ideology. Among the reasons Sampson was apparently angry with some of the ousted U.S. attorneys was a special obsession of the Christian right: prosecuting pornographers. Brent Ward, head of the Justice Department’s obscenity task force and a veteran of the smut wars of the Ed Meese era, e-mailed Sampson in a rage about the failure by two of U.S. attorneys, Las Vegas’s Dan Bogden and Phoenix’s Paul Charlton, to prosecute obscenity cases he had brought them. When the Reagan administration wrangled with pornographers in the 1980s, it failed to win many cases but drove several firms out of business by dragging out the legal proceedings. “What do you suggest I do?” Ward asked Sampson. “If you want to act on what I give you, I will be glad to provide a little more context for each of the two situations.” Both men wound up getting fired.
It looks very much like the hiring/staffing decisions at the Dept. of Justice are based more on one’s religious background and not on one’s qualifications to actually do the job. Kind of explains all the bungling and stupidity.