Six attorneys rejected from civil service positions at the Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and three other top officials for allegedly violating their rights by taking politics into consideration in the hiring process.
The suit is an attempt to hold top officials accountable for the hiring scandal that ultimately led to Gonzales’ resignation last year, said Daniel Metcalfe, the attorney for the plaintiffs who is also executive director of its Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University’s Washington College of Law.
“My clients wish that they hadn’t had to bring this lawsuit — they would have greatly preferred to be working inside the Justice Department, where by all rights they deserved to be, defending the government in court rather than standing as victimized examples of government wrongdoing,” said Metcalfe, a former longtime Justice Department official.
One of the rejected attorneys — Sean Gerlich — first filed suit against the department in June. Today’s amended complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, broadens the suit to include Gonzales; Monica Goodling, former White House Liaison; Michael Elston, former chief of staff to then-Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty; and Esther McDonald, former counsel to Gonzales.
In it, the attorneys allege that top officials violated the applicants’ privacy and due process through the politicized hiring process in the Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program.