The Corner

There Really Is a Racist Scandal at the Justice Department

At last! It took a year, but the Washington Post and the New York Times have finally done (grudging) stories about the Justice Department’s scandalous dismissal of the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.

Indeed, even the Los Angeles Time editorialized about the testimony of former career lawyer Christian Adams before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, going so far as to admit that the Department’s handling of this case “raises larger questions,” although they then claims that “so far the case hasn’t been made” that this was handled inappropriately or that “the department is hostile to white voters whose right are violated.”

The Los Angeles Times is wrong that the case hasn’t been made. Adams’s testimony is both credible and shocking, but more importantly, it has not been refuted at all by the Justice Department. DOJ has told the press that it is only “conservatives” who are concerned over this matter, which is beside the point, and not true in any case.

Adams’s testimony is also completely in accord with my own experiences as a career lawyer in the Civil Rights Division of Justice for four years (and other former Division lawyers who were interviewed by Pajamas Media). In fact, I filed an affidavit with the Civil Rights Commission today confirming parts of Adams’s testimony of which I have personal knowledge. That includes the overt hostility that was shown by other career lawyers in the Voting Section, including its former chief, Joseph Rich, to the first ever Voting Rights Act enforcement case the Division filed against black defendants, when I was still at Justice.

That was the case of U.S. v. Brown, in which a federal district court found that the defendants had engaged in intentional and blatant racial discrimination to deny and dilute the vote of white residents of Noxubee County, Mississippi. This case, which was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was one that most of the lawyers in the Section did not want to investigate, work on, or file. They harassed the few career lawyers like Christian Adams and Christopher Coates who were willing to work on it, simply because the defendants were black (as were some of the victims).

The animus shown towards the race-neutral enforcement of voting rights that Adams testified about was present among the career lawyers when I was at the Division. So was the opposition to enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to regularly clean up their voter rolls and delete individuals who have died or moved away. It is a scandal that has been brewing for years but that no one was willing to talk about. The difference today is that the political appointees in the Obama administration agree with those policies. The political appointees that I worked for in the Bush administration were not willing to put up with this attitude, as the Brown and the New Black Panther cases show, as well as the NVRA cases that were filed against states like Indiana and Missouri for violating Section 8. And contrary to the claims by those on the Left who say that the Bush administration was only interested in protecting white voters or only enforcing Section 8 of the NVRA, the Division filed literally dozens of other cases under the Voting Rights Act from 2001 to 2008 on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities — almost 60 cases in all, compared to less than 30 during the Clinton administration — and 12 cases under all of the provisions of the NVRA, including Section 8, compared to only eight during the Clinton administration.

Hans A. von Spakovsky — Heritage Foundation – As a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Hans von Spakovsky concentrates on voting, ...

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