The blawgosphere is buzzing with discussion of this weekend's NYT column by "The Ethicist," Randy Cohen, which dealt with a law firm associate who rejected job seekers who had belonged to the Federalist Society. In California, there's an ethics rule prohibiting discriminatory conduct in law firm hiring, but it doesn't apply to one's political views -- it applies to "race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability." So I guess that the answer under the rules in California is that you can. Whether it's OK in the ethics sense of "all things considered" is up to you to decide. (And IANYL, so I am not commenting on any employment law aspects to the hypo.)
Much of the buzz is about how conservatives were discriminated against, but I'd like to raise a different issue. Does it hurt candidates' chances at a biglaw job when their resumes are full of lefty affiliations, social justice work, National Lawyers Guild memberships, etc? I am frequently asked that question by students and I have my own views but would be interested in your views. And suppose that a member of the hiring committee thinks, "I don't care about the candidate's politics, but given that resume I just don't see him/her thriving and happy with our client base and type of work." Anything wrong with that?