Throughout the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’s year-and-a-half-long investigation of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation matter, critics of the inquiry attempted to diminish its importance. One commissioner opposed to the investigation referred to the matter as “small potatoes.”
The commission’s investigation, though repeatedly stymied by an obstructionist DOJ that consistently tried to cultivate a public appearance of cooperation with the commission, gathered considerable evidence concerning four principal areas of inquiry:
(1) whether high-level political appointees within DOJ have enunciated a policy and tolerate a practice of enforcing certain civil-rights laws in a racially discriminatory manner;
(2) whether high-level political appointees within DOJ have enunciated a policy and tolerate a practice of not enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (helping to ensure that only eligible voters actually vote);
(3) whether there is pervasive hostility within the ranks of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ toward enforcing the nation’s civil-rights laws in a color-blind manner; and
(4) why DOJ dismissed the voter-intimidation claims against the NBPP after there had been an entry of default in the case.
The commission’s investigation revealed that the answer to questions 1-3 is, incredibly, Yes, and that item 4 is a manifestation of the “pervasive hostility within the ranks of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ toward enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws in a color-blind manner.” Moreover, the evidence shows that the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division refuses to bring cases against black defendants or on behalf of white victims.
The evidence detailing DOJ’s racialism is set forth in the commission’s 200-plus page report to the president and Congress, available at the commission’s website. You be the judge as to whether the matter is “small potatoes.”
— Peter Kirsanow is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.