The Corner

Black Panthers in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Bulletin has another article today about the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division dismissal of a lawsuit it had already won by default against the New Black Panther Party for threatening and intimidating voters at a polling place in Philadelphia last November, an event caught on tape by Fox News. The Washington Times covered this on Friday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the New Black Panther Party is a hate group, similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Whether that is so or not, two of the officers of the NBPP were caught red-handed, one brandishing a weapon, threatening white voters at the polls. One complaining witness, Bartle Bull (a former Robert Kennedy campaign staffer and civil-rights lawyer) said “it would qualify as the most blatant form of voter intimidation” he had ever encountered.

As a former DOJ alumnus, I have never, ever heard of the Division refusing to take a default judgment, especially in a situation where the defendants are basically admitting they violated the law. The facts indicting the DOJ seem damning, and no good explanation seems possible. Indeed, it raises a serious question whether straightforward but pernicious racial-identity politics are at play, the same kind driving

the president’s Supreme Court nomination. Do the same people who excuse Sonia Sotomayor’s racist speeches allow Holder and Co. to dismiss racist intimidation by the New Black Panther Party? Should application of the civil-rights laws (by Sotomayor in the Ricci case and the DOJ in the NBPP case) really  turn on the sympathies the officials have for different racial litigants? Should racist minority members get a pass when whites would not? Does the Left believe that only white supremacists (or Republicans) can engage in racism or intimidation of voters? Do the prohibitions in federal voting-rights laws not apply to radical organizations with Marxist orientations?

This scandalous DOJ action also is consistent with the partisan decision I wrote about recently in NRO where the Civil Rights Division dismissed a lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act. The suit was dismissed without explanation just one month after the Democratic defendant announced she was running for the Senate. Race and partisan politics seems to have completely permeated the decision-making in the Civil Rights Division. Unless there is some other convincing non-discriminatory reason for their actions, Eric Holder and the president must be held to account for these brewing scandals.


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