The exact same trend shows up when you look only at “highly qualified” candidates; when you look at Democratic vs. Republican affiliations; when you look at the SLIP summer intern program; and when you look at the years 2003-2006. The official response from DOJ, however, appears to be that it’s all just a big coincidence. At least one guy who was inadvertantly sucked into this project isn’t buying it:
Daniel Fridman began his career with the Department in December 2004….[In] September 2006 [Michael] Elston assigned him to work on the Screening Committee along with Elston and Esther Slater McDonald.
….Fridman learned that McDonald was obtaining additional information about candidates on the Internet when he saw notations by McDonald providing information that was not contained in the candidate’s application. When Fridman asked McDonald how she obtained the additional information, she told him she conducted searches on Google and MySpace.
….Fridman said McDonald also circled or otherwise identified items on candidates’ applications about which she apparently had concern, such as membership in certain organizations like the American Constitution Society, having a clerkship with a judge who was perceived as a liberal, having worked for a liberal Member of Congress, or having worked for a liberal law school professor.
….We asked Fridman to review a sample of approximately 50 applications of deselected candidates who had outstanding academic records. Fridman said that he would have voted yes on each of the candidates….At the end of the interview, Fridman stated:
I’m still kind of reeling from the résumés that you . . .showed me . . . people from Harvard, Yale, Stanford who were deselected. There were a lot of them. And I am shocked and very disappointed about that. . . . I didn’t know that this was going on. I thought that this was being conducted in good faith. I was conducting my reviews in good faith and making my recommendations based on merits and what I thought were the people [who] were going to be the most qualified candidates for the Department. And I’m sickened by this. And I’m not happy that I’m associated with this.