Excerpt from Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department, by J. Christian Adams:
BEWARE THE RED FILES
Obama and his backers have engaged in a strange form of political projection, baselessly accusing the Bush Civil Rights Division of the exact kind of malfeasance and bias that have become hallmarks of the division under Obama’s presidency. This is evident time and again in the administration of Section 5, which during the Bush years was one of the chief areas critics claimed had become politicized …
To understand the Obama administration’s duplicity, it’s important to understand how Section 5 enforcement works. DOJ Section 5 regulations give the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights the authority to interpose an objection to a state law. The regulations, however, do not allow the AAG to approve state election changes. As a matter of longstanding practice, the career bureaucrats inside the Voting Section review state submissions. They gather facts, conduct interviews and, if they are satisfied the proposal does not discriminate, approve the plan. … Submissions that are pre-cleared don’t reach up into the political ranks of the department. … Only if the technicians, lawyers, and statisticians detect problems justifying an objection do the political appointees get involved.
The exercise of an objection to a submission is a profound power. Such federal oversight is at the farthest frontier of federal power under the Constitution. Thus, it is understandable that the AAG alone, and not the bureaucrats in the Voting Section, has the authority to object to a submission. … The AAG remains free … to reject or accept the recommendation. But the important point is that internally, the Voting Section is responsible for pre-clearances, while the political appointees are responsible for accepting or rejecting a Voting Section recommendation for an objection.
The Obama DOJ has turned this process upside down. According to sources inside the Voting Section, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes has implemented a new Section 5 process that shifts massive power to approve state laws into the DOJ’s political ranks. It works like this: when a politically important submission comes in, Fernandes or some other Obama appointee now tags it as a “red file” — it is literally placed into a red file so everyone knows this is a state law that keenly interests the Obama political appointees. Red files are treated much differently from other submissions because the staff members know their work is being watched at the highest levels of the department. It also sends a signal to the career technicians that they should be extra aggressive in collecting evidence of discrimination.