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Last updated 1:40PM ET
April 21, 2021
In Focus Today
In Focus Today
Partisan politics at the Justice Department
(2007-05-09)
(pri) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faces more questions about partisan politics in the administration of justice. Were federal prosecutors hired for their Republican leanings? Did they use their power to influence some of last year's closest elections?

Listen to report

Also, Congressional Democrats respond to record-high gas prices and, on Reporter's Notebook, is a sarcophagus broken into hundreds of pieces the long-sought Herod's tomb?

Gas Prices Climb Higher and Higher

The latest Lundberg Survey shows that gasoline has gone up to a record $3.07 nationwide. In California, $4 for premium could be a reality in the near future. Democrats in Congress are preparing price-gouging legislation for later today. "Economist" and consultant Phillip Verleger, who publishes the newsletter, "Petroleum Economics Monthly," explains the situation.

Partisan Politics and the Administration of Justice

Last year, the Boston Globe reported that former Attorney General John Ashcroft changed the process for hiring new attorneys for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, which handles sensitive issues, including racial discrimination, employment opportunity and voting rights. The potential for political interference in the division is greater than in other areas of federal law. In previous administrations--Democrat and Republican--career jobs had been handled by civil servants. Ashcroft assigned that task to political appointees, a move that has reportedly changed the division dramatically. Now the focus is on the current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, who is headed back to Capitol Hill to answer some controversial questions: Have federal prosecutors been hired for their legal experience or their Republican leanings? Were legal cases either filed or ignored because of their likely influence on close elections that determined the balance of Congressional power? We hear from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charlie Savage and Justice Department veterans on both sides of issues that go to the heart of Constitutional democracy.

Guests:

- Charlie Savage: Legal Affairs Reporter for the "Boston Globe"

- Roger Clegg: President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity

- David Becker: Director of the Democracy Campaign at the People for the American Way

- David Bowermaster: Federal Courts Reporter for the "Seattle Times"

"To the Point" is produced by KCRW/Santa Monica and distributed nationwide by PRI. Get more info about "To the Point" and find out if this program airs in your area.
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