My column today is about the Justice Department’s dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. Specifically, I respond to what I think was a remarkably weak and uninformed NRO essay by Abigail Thernstrom (and that’s an assertion I would have bet heavily against ever uttering). I’m not going to rehash it here. Readers can judge for themselves which of us has the better of the argument.
Besides countering Dr. Thernstrom, my main point is that the legally unjustifiable, transparently political dismissal of the Panthers case, after the government had already won it, should not be seen in isolation. I contend, in summation, that the case “is about a pattern. It is about the Justice Department actively signaling to the Democratic party’s unscrupulous street operators — the Panthers, the SEIU, ACORN and its progeny — that the voter fraud and intimidation light is green. The civil-rights laws will not be enforced. The Justice Department will not protect the integrity of our elections.”
On that point (and relevant also to Dr. Thernstrom’s strange claim that there has been scant evidence of actual intimidation) a reader reports the following:
Hi Andy—I have been on the Republican legal support team in Philadelphia during the last two presidential elections. I was not at the polling place during the Panther incident but I was working the phones to support poll watchers, and we got lots of calls about the Panthers. During the previous election I actually went to various polling places and met extreme hostility at several, almost completely directly due to outsiders creating paranoia and trying to stir up suspicion and hatred against white people in general and Republicans in particular (ACORN was everywhere during that election, their focus was creating the fear that Republicans were “stealing” people’s votes—as if).
The polling place with the Panthers was in a very busy precinct with a lot of almost street fair activity going on around it, so there were lots of people to witness these guys, which was the biggest reason for their behavior. Philadelphia has a long history of poll shenanigans, which is why the lawyers are deployed there. In both of the last elections police had to rescue members of the Republican legal team, even though they only were there to support poll watchers and did not go into the polling places.
Fair elections in Philadelphia ought to be a primary focus for the Justice Department. The treatment of the Panthers may have set up an expectation for the next election that will create some truly dangerous conditions for voters and poll watchers.
Clearly, while elections are a primary focus for the Obama Justice Department, fair elections that comply with the rule of law are not. As I relate toward the end of the column, it is reliably reported that a top Civil Division official brazenly announced that DOJ would not be enforcing the federal law that calls on states to purge their polls of ineligible voters. She claimed that enforcing the law would depress turn-out. Of course, it would only depress the turn-out of people who shouldn’t be voting. Guess who those people are going to be voting for?