Regent University Graduate Sought ‘Pro-God’ Staff Hires At Justice Department

An internal U.S. Justice Department report has concluded that a top aide to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez broke federal civil service laws by subjecting job applicants to religious and political qualifications.

Monica Goodling, a graduate of TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, screened applicants for their loyalty to the Republican Party and Religious Right views, even though the positions at stake were supposed to be non-partisan.

The New York Times reported that Goodling rejected one prosecutor for a job because the applicant was thought to be a lesbian. In another case, a Republican lawyer received favorable treatment, Goodling noted, because of his conservative views on “god, guns + gays.”   

Reported The Times, “In forwarding a résumé in 2006 from a lawyer who was working for the Federalist Society, Ms. Goodling sent an e-mail message to the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, saying: ‘Am attaching a résumé for a young, conservative female lawyer.’ Ms. Goodling interviewed the woman and wrote in her notes such phrases as ‘pro-God in public life,’ and ‘pro-marriage, anti-civil union.’ The woman was eventually hired as a career prosecutor.”

Federal officials are permitted to take political views into account when hiring for jobs considered political appointments. Those positions, however, make up just a tiny percentage of the more than 100,000 slots at the Justice Department. Most positions fall under Civil Service rules, and the individuals hired for them can stay even during a change of administrations.

Goodling testified before Congress in May of 2007. At that time, she conceded that her activities may have crossed a line. But The Times noted that the report indicates that her actions may have been systemic, and there have been calls for her to be investigated for perjury.

Goodling could also face disciplinary action from her local bar associations and could possibly lose her license to practice law.

Prior to the scandal, Regent was quite proud of Goodling and other graduates it has placed in the federal government. The Boston Globe reported that since President George W. Bush took office in 2001, 150 Regent alumni were hired for federal positions.

This is a remarkable figure for a small school that is not generally well regarded by the higher-education community. Regent Law School, for example, has consistently scored in the lowest tier of law schools in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.