Serious inquiries into potential Justice Department malfeasance related to voting rights are gaining momentum. Finally.
The inquiries stem from the Justice Department’s subversion of its already-won voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. Ever since choosing the Black Panther case as the subject of its annual statutory investigation and report, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has emphasized that its larger aim is to discover if the department led by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has made a policy choice to de-emphasize or forgo protection of the civil rights of white Americans. The commission has secured sworn testimony to that effect.
On Friday, all seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, demanding a hearing into the matter as a “priority over other committee business.” They stated, “If these alarming allegations are true, the Civil Right Division [of the Justice Department] is actively engaged in widespread politicization and possible corruption.”
The senators’ letter followed separate missives from two high-ranking Republican congressmen who have insisted for a year that the Justice Department’s actions merit outside investigation. On Thursday, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to President Obama demanding appointment of a special counsel to examine the whole situation. “Had these two [Black Panthers] been members of the Ku Klux Klan, I doubt the Justice Department would have dropped the charges,” he said. “And by not fully prosecuting the case, the Justice Department has sent the message that voter intimidation of white voters is acceptable.”
“Your continued refusal to investigate has been - and remains - inexcusable,” Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, wrote to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine on July 14. “As inspector general, you have a legal and moral obligation to go wherever truth takes you.” Mr. Wolf has asked the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to review Mr. Fine’s refusal to investigate.
This all comes on the heels of damning developments in the case. First, two former Justice Department attorneys submitted sworn affidavits supporting the allegation of whistle-blower J. Christian Adams that the Holder team makes race-based enforcement judgments. Second, several other former department officials have backed Mr. Adams in print, although not yet under oath. Third, Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander criticized his own paper for ignoring the story.
“If Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his department are not colorblind in enforcing civil rights laws, they should be nailed,” Mr. Alexander said. Instead, the media has been blocking the public’s door to more information about voting-rights abuses. Despite so many hurdles, the truth is getting out.