- - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The rule of law is meant to guide the administration of justice. But in an administration obsessed with race, not necessarily. The Obama Justice Department has instructed judges across the nation to lighten up on the poor, and especially poor minorities, or else. The lady with the blindfold and sword has tossed her blindfold aside and put the weight of her sword on the scale to favor those with the right connections.

The Obama administration is all about payback. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has written to municipal and state judges from coast to coast warning them that federal funds for their courthouses could be cut unless they dial back fees and fines levied against “economically disadvantaged” defendants guilty of minor crimes, particularly those of ethnic minorities who don’t have the money to pay their fines.

The letter, dispatched March 14, was signed by Vanita Gupta, an assistant attorney general, and Lisa Foster, the director of the Office for Access, and lays out what they call “basic constitutional principles relevant to the enforcement of fines and fees.” Among them is a prohibition against jailing someone for failing to pay without first asking whether he is poor and whether the nonpayment was willful, together with a demand to consider alternatives to jail. Judges were warned that practices that “impose disparate harm on the basis of race or national origin” may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the wake of Justice Department investigations into civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, municipal authorities are sensitive to racial discrimination, as they should be, but now judges are asked to be financial analysts and cut offenders a break if they’re broke. Who says crime does not pay?

Judges now must defer justice to Ancestry.com to determine the full ethnicity of defendants. Failing to account for a drop of privileged blood could have grave consequences. Last week, a California foster family discovered that to their sorrow. A 6-year-old girl they had cared for since age 2, whom they intended to adopt, was taken from them by social workers who decreed that she must live with blood relatives because she is 1/64th American Indian. The little girl was bustled into a waiting car in tears, clutching her teddy bear, and driven away from the only home she has ever known. In a the new society where race trumps all, preserving a minuscule sliver of ethnicity is in her “best interests.” Love doesn’t count.

A nation that elects a black president, twice, has proved its commitment to a colorblind society, and spends 10 percent of it budget — $362 billion — on the safety net for the poor. But basing penalties on the size of what’s in defendant’s pocket, is absurdity gone too far, even for an administration that has established a new standard of incompetence.

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