Obama Admin snubbing Civil Rights Act?
Their questionaire for political appointees (for thousands of positions, BTW, not just cabinet posts) asks about arrests. "There are no time limits for some information, including liens, tax audits, lawsuits, legal charges, bankruptcies or arrests." "Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says."
But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a very dim view of considering arrest records in hiring and firing. Arrest without conviction proves very little, and arrests disproportionately impact minorities. The commission's advice to employers is that merely asking for arrest records may be violation: "Even where there is no direct evidence that an employer used an arrest record in an employment decision, a pre-employment inquiry regarding arrest records may violate Title VII. It is generally presumed that an employer only asks questions which he/she deems relevant to the employment decision." It advises that even with a conviction the employer must weight its gravity, how long ago it happened, and how it relates to the job.
I'd assume Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not apply to political appointments (political operations usually except themselves from employment laws), but even so, I'd hope that the incoming administration wouldn't be quite so obvious in disregarding its spirit!