There is a way, nonetheless. As a young official in Nixon’s Department of Justice—and, I must admit, with some amazement—I watched a Republican Justice Department and a conservative attorney general go after a liberal Supreme Court justice with remarkable success. Robert Shogan, a former Los Angeles Times and Newsweek reporter, recounted much of the story in “A Question of Judgment: The Fortas Case and the Struggle for the Supreme Court.”I filled in a few missing pieces when I wrote “The Rehnquist Choice.”Rehnquist in those days was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel and prepared a detailed memorandum for Attorney General John Mitchell explaining how to undertake an action that had never before been done, namely for the Justice Department to start a criminal investigation of a sitting justice, not based on hard information but rather based mainly on speculation of a worst-case scenario, i.e., assuming gifts and favors were bribes.
With the Rehnquist memo in hand, Mitchell arranged a secret meeting with then Chief Justice Earl Warren, and told Warren that if Fortas did not resign from the court the Justice Department was going to launch an investigation of Fortas’ dealing with a financier, Louis Wolfson, then recently convicted of securities violations, because of Wolfson’s earlier gifts to his friend Fortas and Fortas’ wife. The case against Fortas was weak, yet Mitchell was more than bluffing. He was prepared to have a grand jury determine whether there was a fire amid the smell of smoke. When Fortas, a formidable legal mind, tested the bluff, Mitchell upped the stakes. He passed the word that he was going after Fortas’ wife, Carol Agger, a highly successful tax law specialist, as well as Fortas’ former law partner, Paul Porter. Mitchell said that he was considering reopening a grand jury proceeding that had cleared both Agger and Porter regarding a case disposed of years earlier. This, too, bordered on being a trumped-up charge, but an attorney general can make good on a bluff and actually convene a grand jury. That was not necessary. Rather than put his wife and former partner through the agony, or tarnish the court by the very fact of such a proceeding, Fortas resigned. Continue Reading »
Several states are working to limit the use of credit scores as a condition of employment. Fred Clark has more:
Amy Traub points to some encouraging news in her article:
A growing number of states are also taking action to restrict the use of credit checks in employment. Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Maryland and Connecticut have passed legislation limiting the use of credit checks in hiring, firing, and promotions. More than 20 other states, including California, New York and Tennessee are considering bills. The moves are, in part, to help good employees … get jobs they deserve, but also address a more fundamental problem: There’s no real evidence that the practice is good for employers, either.
Companies justify the credit checks by saying they need some way to assess a job applicant’s reliability and character. Credit checks have been aggressively marketed to employers by for-profit credit bureaus to do just that. Yet it’s far from clear that running credit checks benefits employers. The only available rigorous study of employment credit checks concluded that there’s no correlation between credit history and job performance. Even industry representatives admit this. Eric Rosenberg, Director of State Governmental Relations for TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, conceded: “…we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.”
The downside of Traub’s article is that she notes that companies making fantastic profits selling credit scores have been able to reinvest some of those profits into lobbying for exemptions and loopholes in that state-by-state legislation.
For the record, I have pretty good credit. My magic number is considered acceptably white high. The anger you’ve probably noticed in this rant of a post doesn’t arise from me yet getting burned personally by the expanding influence of credit scoring and the unelected, unaccountable, supra-market, supra-governmental agencies to whom we have surrendered so much power. I’m not waiting for that to happen. I’m trying to save time by getting angry now.
I just came back from the public pool and what was supposed to be a water aerobics class. “The city told us we’re not allowed to segregate the hours by age anymore,” the lifeguard told me. “My boss is trying to get an exemption to see if we can reinstate the class.”
So instead I walked up and down the pool for a half-hour. Better than nothing, right? And it felt good to move my ankle without weight on it.