Mixed Messages from Obama Administration on Background Checks

In the context of screening to determine eligibility to exercise a fundamental right, background checks are vital, and we don’t concern ourselves with whether it might be a racist policy that disproportionately prevents minorities from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. But in the context of employment, the Obama Administration is very concerned about background checks preventing minorities from being hired:

The Obama administration continues to warn employers about doing criminal and other background checks that could disparately impact minorities and other groups protected by discrimination laws.

Oh, so now that it’s in a context the left disfavors, background checks are bad. I see.

Civil right advocates also worry about employers ruling out minority candidates because of arrest records and not necessarily convictions.

And how many Blacks in Philadelphia have been denied their right to bear arms under the Second Amendment and Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution because of just an arrest record? We’ve been bitching about this stuff for years, but because it’s a concern the left does not view as legitimate, nothing changes. If you want to be a “civil rights advocate,” you should care about all civil rights, not just the ones you like.

I can actually agree that employers are getting a little nuts when they are counting arrest records against applicants, but you don’t then get to turn around and dismiss concerns when they are presented in a context you don’t favor.

4 thoughts on “Mixed Messages from Obama Administration on Background Checks”

  1. Employers have to count arrest records. For example, the local paper reported last week that a guy arrested for armed robbery of 4 convenience stores (where he fired several times and hit one person, who lived) was allowed to plead to misdemeanor possession of a weapon by a felon, so it would be counted as a gun crime (good for liberal numbers) but not a violent crime (which would be bad for their numbers). If you couldn’t access the arrest record, you would have no idea that he had just gone on a shooting bender.

    1. The flip side of that is all the people arrested, but then exonerated as the investigation proceeds, or found not guilty of all charges in court. In either case, there’s still a record the person was arrested, and I know plenty of employers who don’t check the context or outcome. “Arrested == disqualified,” period.

      Hell, I’ve been detained (not arrested, but detained) because a guy who vaguely looked like me and/or drove a car like mine robbed the convenience store a couple blocks from my dad’s house. Those things happen, but it shouldn’t be held against an innocent person for the rest of his/her life.

      If an employer wants to check the arrest record in addition to the conviction record, I think the employer has the responsibility to dig deeper and find out the outcome. “Arrested != convicted,” even if the CSGV says it should.

      1. A detention would not (in most jurisdictions) create any sort of arrest record. While I agree with you that arrest records shouldn’t necessarily disqualify a person, the employer should have the right to do so if they choose to. I believe we should have VERY few limits on an employers decision to hire (or not hire) a person for any reason.

        As far as Sabastian’s point – I totally agree. Background checks are bad for the minorities can’t be true in some situations and false in others.

  2. We’ve got a bill in the Legislature to make arrest and acquittal records private for just that reason (hiring). Now that records are online they don’t take any effort to search. As for reduced charges; in our Courtview system the initial charge is shown, then pleas and reductions and outcome. So the shootout turned shoplifting would be easy to see with a few clicks.

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