The lawyer for a Justice Department job applicant who claims he was rejected because of his "liberal affiliations" has gone back to federal court, adding five new plaintiffs and four individual defendants to bolster his case that politicization of the Justice Department hiring process was widespread.
Dan Metcalfe, who retired last year as a top Justice Department official, filed an amended complaint at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Friday morning. He represents Sean Gerlich, the original plaintiff, now working as a lawyer in Brussels, as well as the following people, who allege that politics led to their rejection as applicants for positions in the department's honors or internship programs: Christopher Coleman of Pittsburgh; James Gooch of Portland, Maine; Benjamin Meier of New York City; James Saul of Madison, Wis.; and Jennifer Zajac of San Diego. All, according to the complaint filed Friday, were "grossly disappointed" by their rejections, and they claim violation of their First Amendment and Privacy Act rights because of the department's investigation into their political leanings that led to their not being hired. Metcalfe asserts that more than 800 individuals were victims of the politicized hiring process.
The original complaint named the Justice Department as the defendant, but the amended complaint names former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and department officials Monica Goodling, Michael Elston and Esther McDonald in their individual capacities. Metcalfe, an adjunct professor at American University's Washington College of Law, also mentioned Attorney General Michael Mukasey's "blatantly aggressive" Aug. 12 speech before the American Bar Association in which Mukasey said he plans no criminal invesitgation of the few officials who violated department standards in the hiring scandal. Those statements, Metcalfe says, indicate that the department has not done enough to make the officials accountable or to deter future similar violations.
Lawyers for Monica Goodling, who was named in the amended lawsuit filed Friday, issued a statement asserting that Goodling played no role at all in hiring or rejecting applicants for the honors and intern programs at issue. "We have no idea why the six plaintiffs in this case were not selected," says the firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, "except that it had nothing to do with Monica Goodling -- a fact that the evidence will bear out in court." Akin Gump lawyers John Dowd, Jeffrey King and James Sherry are representing Goodling.
First reported in The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times