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Enemies List Revisited

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03 September 2008, 2:46 PM

A few weeks ago we wrote of a former Earthjustic law clerk, Jamie Saul, who was blackballed out of a job at the Department of Justice because he favored vigorous enforcement of environmental laws. Maybe blackballed is the wrong word—he applied for a job and didn't get it for reasons that were certainly improper and possibly illegal.

The DoJ looked into such hiring practices in the wake over the scandal over the firing of several U.S. attorneys for what sure look like political reasons. Turns out politics infected decisions involving more than U.S. attorneys.

Michael Mukasey, the new attorney general, reacting to the press reports of all this announced that people who had been rejected for improper reasons were welcome to try again and this time politics would be ignored. He didn't say people hired for the wrong reasons would be let go, because "two wrongs don't make a right." He also said that not every illegal act is a crime, which is the sort of statement that makes people impatient with lawyers.

In any event, I wrote to Jamie and asked if he might reapply for one of the coveted positions in the department. Here's what he said:

"I would be tempted to reapply—even sent a letter to Mukasey yesterday asking him to inform me of available employment opportunities (and making sure he had my address so he could 'reach out' to the other rejected applicants as he stated he would do!). But as far as I can tell, all he's suggesting is that we apply for open positions—of which, in the Energy and Natural Resources Division, there are currently only three, all for experienced litigators with at least three years of experience. So those of us in the 2006 class of 'de-selected' applicants, who are only just coming up on one year of practice (if we're lucky!), may be out of luck."

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