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The Times first reported the decision to dismiss the complaint in May and later reported that Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the department’s No. 3 political appointee, had approved the decision even after the government had won judgments against the New Black Panthers for their actions.

A Justice Department memo shows that the front-line career lawyers who brought the case decided as early as December to seek a complaint against the party; its chairman, Malik Zulu Shabazz, a lawyer and D.C. resident; Minister King Samir Shabazz, a resident of Philadelphia and head of the Philadelphia chapter who was accused of wielding the nightstick; and Jerry Jackson, a resident of Philadelphia and a party member.

Witnesses said Mr. Samir Shabazz, armed with the nightstick, and Mr. Jackson used racial slurs and made threats as they stood outside the polling place door.

The Justice Department did obtain an injunction against Mr. Samir Shabazz that prohibits him from brandishing a weapon outside a polling place through Nov. 15, 2012, and Ms. Schmaler has said the department “will fully enforce the terms of that injunction.”

Mr. Jackson was an elected member of Philadelphia’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee and was credentialed to be at the polling place as an official Democratic Party polling watcher, according to the Philadelphia city commissioner’s office. Records show he obtained new credentials as a poll watcher “at any ward/division in Philadelphia” just days after the charges against him were dismissed.

None of the New Black Panthers responded to the charges or made any appearance in court. The party has not returned e-mails for comment, and the voice mailbox at its Washington headquarters Wednesday was full.

Four months after the complaint was filed, at a time career lawyers who brought the charges were in the final stages of seeking actual sanctions, they were told by their superiors to seek a delay after a meeting between political appointees and career supervisors, according to federal records and interviews.

Loretta King, who was acting assistant attorney general, ordered the delay after she discussed with Mr. Perrelli concerns about the case during one of their regular review meetings, according to the interviews. Mrs. King, a career senior executive service official, had been named by President Obama in January to temporarily fill the vacant political position of assistant attorney general for civil rights while a permanent choice could be made.

She and other career supervisors ultimately recommended dropping the case against two of the men and the party. Mr. Perrelli approved that plan, officials said.

None of the front-line career lawyers who brought the complaint has been made available for comment.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights also has demanded that the Justice Department explain the dismissal, saying a previous response “paints the department in a poor light.” In a letter to Mr. Holder, the commission noted that it is “answerable” to the president, Congress and the public to ensure that civil rights laws are enforced and had the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents to guarantee that the laws are being followed.

Commissioner Todd Gaziano, an independent named to the agency by Congress in February 2008, has outlined a witness list in a request for a “major study project” by the commission that would include an extensive investigation by its staff armed with subpoenas and public hearings in both Washington and Philadelphia.

Mr. Gaziano, a former Justice Department lawyer who served in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, said the commission needs to determine, among other things, whether the decision to drop the charges constituted a departure from prior enforcement policy and whether it ultimately would lead to more voter intimidation.

“The dismissal of the lawsuit has the potential to significantly change the understanding some officials have regarding the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, for good or for bad,” he said.