The Corner

A Sad Day for Justice

National Review has covered the shameful antics of the Holder Justice Department in the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) voter-intimidation case pretty extensively. A key part of this story has been the work of former Voting Section chief Christopher Coates. Unfortunately for the interests of justice and the American people, this past Tuesday was Christopher Coates’s last day at the Justice Department.

Coates risked his career when he complied with a subpoena from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that his superiors had ordered him to ignore. His testimony before the commission was riveting. Coates confirmed that the Obama administration has implemented a policy against race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and against enforcing the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act that require states to maintain accurate voter-registration lists.

The Obama administration essentially forced Coates out as the career chief of the Voting Section. Coates was exiled to South Carolina for, among other things, his pursuit of the NBPP case. His court victory in another case, U.S. v. Ike Brown (the first DOJ case against a black defendant for blatant racial discrimination in the voting context) also angered the division’s management and made him subject to harassment and abuse. Such treatment is unacceptable in the Civil Rights Division, which represents the American people and is charged with enforcing federal law fairly and objectively.

The memorable speech Coates gave at his going-away party, which was reported by National Review, well befit the kind of professional the Justice Department needs. He warned that

one of the most detrimental ways to politicize the enforcement process in the Voting Section is to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act only for the protection of certain racial or ethnic minorities; or to take the position that the Voting Section is not going to enforce certain provisions of any of the voting statutes the Voting Section has the responsibility to enforce. Such decisions carry with them obvious, enormous implications for partisan political struggles.

As Coates said then, “I did my best to enforce all of our voting statutes for all Americans, and I leave here with my soul rested that I did the right thing to the best of my ability.”

Unfortunately, lawyers of his caliber and integrity are few and far between these days in the Civil Rights Division. And they are becoming even fewer as the Obama administration fills the career ranks of the division with ideological radicals and ACLU activists.

It is shameful that Coates, who is the kind of public servant we need in the federal government, was driven out of the Justice Department. It is even more shameful that the mainstream media has completely ignored his story. He leaves an out-of-control Civil Rights Division that is more interested in pushing racial employment quotas on fire and police departments or suing school districts over dress codes than in going after real discrimination and real intimidation.


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