WASHINGTON -- In its ostensible attempt to create a nondiscriminatory application process, the Department of Justice is inviting candidates with "mental retardation" to pursue attorney posts.
A DOJ job listing at its official Web site reveals that its Civil Rights Division is seeking 10 "experienced" trial attorneys for its Voting Section in Washington, D.C. and is encouraging "qualified applicants with targeted disabilities to apply."
The targeted disabilities it mentions include "mental retardation" and "mental illness," among others such as blindness and deafness.
Successful applicants are tasked with "enforcing federal statutes and executive orders that prohibit, among other things, unlawful discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, police services, public accommodations and facilities, and federally funded and conducted programs."
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, described the posting as "pretty striking in a call for applications from experienced attorneys" but suggested it was merely "[b]oilerplate that was designed for a wide range of federal jobs."
Volokh said on his blog that the demands of the job ultimately "ensures that no mentally retarded lawyers will indeed be hired." He presumed the language of the ad was simply unchanged from other government jobs that some mentally challenged individuals can adeptly perform.
The posting has inspired some jokes about lawyers and the government.
"Recruiting mentally retarded lawyers to litigate civil rights cases for the DOJ may take the expression 'good enough for government work' too far," wrote Above The Law's David Lat.
Former DOJ lawyer Ty Clevenger jested, "Having worked there, I think CRD has plenty of mentally retarded lawyers already. Mostly in supervisory positions."
The use of the word "retarded" has lately been the subject of considerable controversy after Rahm Emanuel reportedly used it pejoratively in private to describe those he deemed unintelligent.