Those who read this space know I am not a fan of the Republicans’ vaunted “Pledge to America.” I’m for simple pledges, the kind that get back to basics. If the Republican party is interested in making a pledge like that — a pledge that will resonate with the vast majority of the American people — here’s a suggestion: Promise an unwavering commitment to the principle of equal protection of the law for every American citizen. Promise, therefore, that Congress will investigate weighty allegations that the Obama Justice Department is engaged in racist law-enforcement practices.
Promise, moreover, that any executive-branch high official who has conspired to deny American citizens equal protection, or who has obstructed justice in an effort to cover up such a conspiracy, will be impeached and removed from office.
While commentators have sought to downplay the scandal over DOJ’s dismissal of the New Black Panther party voter-intimidation case, even the liberal media is becoming too embarrassed not to take notice of this injustice. That owes to last week’s explosive testimony by Christopher Coates, a decorated veteran lawyer and supervisor in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Defying attorney general Eric Holder — and thus at great professional risk to himself — Coates testified before the Civil Rights Commission last week. It is now abundantly clear why Holder and his minions have been so keen on blocking Coates’s compliance with the commission’s lawful subpoenas.
In hair-raising testimony that named names, Coates described the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s policy of racially biased civil-rights enforcement. In so doing, he corroborated the prior account of his fellow whistleblower, J. Christian Adams, who resigned from the department in order to comply with a commission subpoena. (Holder’s subordinates stopped him from cooperating with the investigation while he was under their thumb.) Both Coates and Adams assert that they came forward because the Obama administration’s policy flagrantly violates civil-rights law and the Constitution. Both also said that public statements and testimony by high-ranking DOJ officials about the Panthers and DOJ policy case have been false.
The department dismissed the Panthers case despite the fact that the government had already won it, due to the defendants’ contemptuous default. The dismissal occurred despite the fact that career prosecutors judged the case to be exceedingly strong. Nevertheless, Holder’s top staffers have maintained for months that the rationale for the dismissal was a good-faith disagreement between low-ranking civil servants (i.e., career prosecutors) about the correct construction of the Voting Rights Act.
To the contrary, it is now clear from the testimony of Coates and Adams, as well as from documents DOJ was compelled to disclose in a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, that Obama political appointees were heavily involved in ordering the dismissal and that they were being lobbied by left-wing activist groups. Indeed, Obama political appointee Steven Rosenbaum, the deputy assistant attorney general who is nominally responsible for the decision to dismiss the case, is said to have admitted to Coates that he never even read the case team’s memorandum about the legal and factual support for taking legal action against the Panthers.
A chain of communications finally pried from DOJ by Judicial Watch links Rosenbaum with even higher ranking political appointees. These include deputy associate attorney general Sam Hirsch (a former Obama campaign operative who has pushed for the race-based Balkanization of Hawaii); Thomas Perrelli, the associate attorney general (DOJ’s No. 3 official); and David Ogden, who was deputy attorney general (the No. 2 post at Justice) when the front office, contrary to its repeated claims, was deliberating over the Panthers case. Also almost certainly in the loop is Holder himself. Besides the fact that the Panthers controversy inside his department was something he’d naturally have been interested in and briefed on, the Judicial Watch disclosures indicate that talking points about the Panthers dismissal were prepared for the attorney general at some unspecified point.
The dismissal of the Panthers case and the dissembling over it are damning, but they pale in importance when compared with evidence that DOJ hews to a policy of racially discriminatory enforcement of the civil-rights laws. In short, the policy holds that if the victims are white and the offenders are from minority groups, the department refuses to bring cases.
Coates and Adams have both recounted that Julie Fernandez, Obama’s deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, instructed subordinates that the department was interested only in filing “traditional types” of voting cases that “provide political equality for racial and language minorities.” Translation: Justice will not act to vindicate the rights of white people if that would involve civil or criminal lawsuits against non-whites. Furthermore, DOJ is consciously refusing to enforce provisions of the National Voter Registration Act that require states to purge their registration lists of ineligible persons (e.g., the dead or those who have left the state). This is a neon sign inviting malefactors to undermine the integrity of federal elections — elections that Justice is obliged to protect.
Coates has also testified that he complained directly to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Civil Rights Division, about the Obama DOJ’s policy of racial animus in voting-rights enforcement. This is important because, as Jennifer Rubin has reported, Perez subsequently insisted to the Civil Rights Commission, under oath, that no such policy existed. In fact, not content with this denial, he dramatically elaborated that people of the “ilk” that urged discrimination in law-enforcement would not be tolerated in the Obama Justice Department. He even challenged the commission to produce credible evidence to the contrary. All this during the same testimony in which Perez denied that DOJ’s political leadership had any involvement in the Panthers dismissal. He conveniently omitted any mention of, among other things, Rosenbaum’s failure to read the case memo — the direct cause of a blistering argument between Rosenbaum and Coates that was notorious among DOJ figures involved in the Panthers controversy.
This is beyond outrageous. If there were evidence that a Republican-controlled Justice Department were engaged in the kind of abuses that appear to be going on here, the media would long ago have demanded a full accounting from the White House that proclaims itself “the most transparent administration in history.” Democrats would already be preparing impeachment hearings.
I have been a harsh critic of Eric Holder. When Mr. Holder was nominated, I contended that his conduct as deputy attorney general during the Clinton years, particularly his pivotal role in the pardons of Marc Rich and of terrorists, were disqualifying. Moreover, given the Justice Department’s obligation to enforce the laws against perjury and obstruction of justice, and given the palpable need for Congress and all Americans to be able to trust the assurances and judgment of the attorney general — a need about which Democrats and the media incessantly reminded us during Alberto Gonzales’s tenure — I urged that Holder’s incredible testimony during Congress’s investigations of the scandalous Clinton pardons demonstrated his unsuitability. I argued that it promised just the sort of testimonial gaffes and stonewalling we’ve seen over the last two years. In short, if Congress were truly concerned about the Justice Department’s being “politicized” — the very criticism constantly trumpeted by Democrats during Gonzales’s stewardship — then Holder’s baggage made him the last political insider lawmakers would want at the helm.
Nevertheless, I have not joined the growing chorus calling for Holder’s removal. He won confirmation fair and square, and the debate over his nomination ended with Republicans flocking to join Democrats in his corner. Since then, he has been predictably controversial, but claims that his misadventures have been impeachable have, for the most part, been foolish. By and large, Holder has made policy missteps but has not presided over the commission of illegality. A more important distinction is that whatever misguided policies Holder has inflicted on Justice, they have not been his policies; Holder has carried out Obama’s policies, whether the issue has been calling Americans “cowards” on matters of race, rigging DOJ’s assessment of the D.C. voting-rights act, Mirandizing terrorists, pushing for a civilian trial of the 9/11 attackers, denying the role of Islam in Islamist terror, staffing his department with attorneys who volunteered for America’s terrorist enemies, urging the damaging disclosure of classified information, conducting a witch-hunt against the CIA, suggesting a willingness to cooperate in foreign investigations of Bush administration officials, publicly egging on the Bush torture narrative even as his congressional testimony and briefs filed by his own department betrayed its emptiness, etc. These are reasons to vote against Obama and Democrats, not reasons to impeach them. If you don’t want the policies of the radical Left, don’t vote for the radical Left.
But racial animus in law enforcement is categorically different. The Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection under the law. The civil-rights laws, moreover, make it a crime for government officials to deprive “any person” — not any black or minority person, but any person, period — of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” It is a grave violation of law for the Justice Department to practice racial discrimination in deciding which cases it will bring, to determine that Americans of one race or class are not entitled to the same protection as all Americans.
That’s not just politicization of the Justice Department. It is criminalization of the Justice Department. Under the Constitution, it is Congress’s obligation to stop it. The current Congress obviously won’t do its duty. Americans will strongly support congressional candidates who pledge to right that wrong.
– Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.
Editor’s note: This column has been amended since its original posting.