The foundation is crumbling from the Justice Department’s stonewall on the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case. What’s becoming visible is a serious corrosion in the whole edifice of the Civil Rights Division in the Obama-Holder Justice Department.
The edifice shook on Friday when a key lawyer in the case notified the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that he is now available to testify. The lawyer, J. Christian Adams, had been ordered by his Justice Department superiors, quite improperly, to ignore a subpoena by the commission. Mr. Adams instead resigned from the department effective two weeks ago, largely in honorable protest over its handling of the Black Panther case. His attorney e-mailed the commission on Friday, “Mr. Adams wants to relieve any obligation he has under the subpoena.” Mr. Adams’ testimony surely will shed light on how the unreasonable decision was made.
Readers will remember that the case involved two New Black Panther Party members - one a local Democratic Party official and poll watcher - who used racial epithets and threats while standing at the entrance to a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day, 2008. One Panther brandished a nightstick like a weapon. After the case effectively had been won, political appointees of President Obama’s dismissed or reduced all charges or sanctions against the defendants, and then they stonewalled multiple inquiries about the case from Congress, the media and the Civil Rights Commission.
The stonewall’s mortar further disintegrated when the June 21 issue of the Weekly Standard, published on Sunday, featured a lengthy, explosive expose on the Black Panther case by Commentary magazine contributing editor Jennifer Rubin. Confirming and expanding on months of reporting by The Washington Times, Ms. Rubin provides at least five nuggets of information that are damaging to the official story line peddled by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the Obama White House.
First, Ms. Rubin reports that Steven H. Rosenbaum, the acting deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, who spearheaded the decision to drop the case, was repeatedly unfamiliar with case details even as he ordered it to be dismissed. Second, Mr. Rosenbaum repeatedly based his arguments for dropping the case on the idea that First Amendment speech protections somehow excused the Black Panthers’ threats. Yet during May 14 testimony to the Civil Rights Commission, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez repeatedly, exasperatingly, dodged questions about whether First Amendment concerns prompted the cases’ dismissals, effectively suggesting that the position could not be defended.
Third, Ms. Rubin reports that Mr. Holder was briefed personally on the decision to drop the case, a fact that seemingly contradicts earlier Justice Department statements. Fourth, the Justice Department’s own internal investigation into the strange handling of the case has itself been a sham. Even though the Office of Professional Responsibility was assigned to the case in July, it did not bother to interview the original trial team until a few days before Mr. Adams left the department.
Finally, Ms. Rubin’s reporting confirms that much of Justice’s Civil Rights Division rejects “the notion that any discrimination case should be filed against black defendants” for any reason. In short, a double standard exists in which only whites and Asians can be guilty of illegal discrimination but never be its victims, while blacks can only be victims but never charged as perpetrators.
This is a dangerous notion and un-American notion. If Americans of different races cannot receive equal justice from the Justice Department, there is no real justice.