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P.J. Media uncovered efforts by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to actively recruit and give preferential treatment to the hiring of attorneys and staff who have certain so-called “targeted disabilities.” Included are attorneys and staff with “psychiatric disabilities,” “severe intellectual disabilities,” and other current severe “intellectual or mental conditions.”
This policy stems from an executive order signed by President Obama in July 2010 requiring that federal agencies develop plans for promoting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities including “performance targets and numerical goals for employment of individuals with disabilities and sub-goals for employment of individuals with targeted disabilities.”
Pursuant to this executive order, Attorney General Holder issued a memorandum entitled “The Justice Department’s Schedule A Hiring Plan for Persons with Targeted Disabilities.” It directed all Department “components” to establish, by July 31 2012, a program to recruit, hire, and promote “qualified” attorneys and non-attorneys with targeted disabilities.
This brings us to the memo P.J. Media disclosed from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division dated July 31, 2012, entitled “Hiring Of Persons With Targeted Disabilities Policy,” laying out such a program for the Civil Rights Division. Under the program, applicants who indicate they possess a targeted disability may be direct-hired “through a streamlined, non-competitive appointment.” They are “eligible to be considered, interviewed, and hired for a vacant position” even “before the position is advertised.”
This is taking affirmative action to the extreme. What exactly constitutes a psychiatric disability or severe mental condition? Would drug addicts fall into these categories and be given a shortcut to hiring over individuals who are drug-free? Would a schizophrenic with potentially violent tendencies be eligible? Those who would be inclined to answer yes to these questions argue that the program is only aimed at recruiting and hiring “qualified” applicants. This is an extreme oxymoron that is as illogical and ill-conceived as the program it is used to rationalize.
According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, intellectual disability means “a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills.”
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