- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2010


The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says the Justice Department continues to stonewall investigation of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. This reflects systemic injustice at Justice.

Several reports in the past week exposed a bizarre ideological campaign being pushed by the department’s Civil Rights Division. First, the department apparently is adopting a policy of sending award money from successful civil rights suits not to actual victims, but to outside groups that claim to “represent” victims’ interests. This clearly risks payoffs to liberal groups such as ACORN, the ACLU and the NAACP. Second, the department threatens to halt a South Carolina program that tests prison inmates for AIDS and segregates those found HIV-positive while providing them early-intervention medical care. The Justice Department claims this humane program to protect the rest of the inmates from infection while also trying to save the lives of those afflicted somehow stigmatizes prisoners with AIDS.

The Black Panther case provides further evidence of the Civil Rights Division being unmoored to the law. The attack against J. Christian Adams - the whistleblowing attorney who resigned in protest of Justice inaction - is that he is a “disgruntled” worker making unsupportable charges. However, Mr. Adams - whose performance earned him a promotion the month before he announced his resignation - has been backed by at least five former colleagues, and he insists his former superior Chris Coates would support his story if allowed to testify.

Civil Rights Commission President Gerald A. Reynolds has written yet again to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to ask him to let Mr. Coates testify. Because Mr. Holder failed to comply with the commission’s request for an answer by July 21, Mr. Reynolds on Friday extended the deadline to Aug. 11 but warned that no response from Mr. Holder will be deemed an admission that Mr. Adams is telling the truth.

The crux of Mr. Adams‘ complaint is that the Black Panther case was deliberately dropped, and it’s part of a broader pattern of politicizing the administration of justice. Mr. Coates and Mr. Adams both have won honors for their past work. They allege, or reportedly allege, that Mr. Holder’s team makes decisions based on race and politics rather than the law. Their reports, and reports from other former department lawyers, reveal that black staffers at Justice have been harassed for working on cases against black defendants, that department officials have vowed not to enforce parts of the Voting Rights Act equally or at all, that military voters are receiving less-than-enthusiastic protection while felons received special assistance to vote, and that department officials dropped the New Black Panther case without bothering to read the briefs.

Against these serious allegations, no stonewall should be allowed to stand.

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