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The PJ Tatler

by
Hans A. von Spakovsky

Bio

March 21, 2012 - 1:35 pm

What happened in Sanford, Fla., between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman?  No one knows exactly what went down… yet.

All we know for sure is that this is an utter tragedy for the family of Trayvon Martin.  They have our heartfelt sympathy for their terrible loss.  Hopefully, state law enforcement officials will get to the bottom of what happened.  There should, however, be no rush to judgment until we get an in-depth investigation of what actually happened rather than just media reports and claims by advocacy organizations.

Unfortunately, a chorus of politicians and local activists has succeeded in bringing the federal Department of Justice into the case.  DOJ announced late Monday that its Civil Rights Division would investigate the shooting.

While it would be unfair for anyone to prejudge this case until the facts are known, one can — unfortunately — predict that DOJ’s investigation will be anything but objective or credible.

Over the last three years, DOJ, including the Civil Rights Division, has been systematically politicalized.  In the process, it’s been un-professionalized.

The result has been a series of embarrassments and outright scandals.  Foremost, of course, is Operation Fast & Furious, the “felony stupid” gun running operation that Holder’s Justice Department set in motion to justify more restrictive gun laws.  That program led directly to the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.  DOJ has spent the better part of a year stonewalling a congressional investigation into what went wrong.  It has repeatedly refused to answer questions about who approved the operation or to turn over documentation that would shed light on the agency’s actions.  And these are the stand-up investigators who will doggedly pursue truth in Forida?

The most recent black eye for the Department is the 500-page report by special counsel Henry F. Schuelke.  It documents the intentional misbehavior of DOJ criminal prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case.  Schuelke reports that they concealed “significant exculpatory evidence that would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”  The DOJ’s case was dismissed by Judge Emmet Sullivan, who said that he had never seen such misconduct in his 25 years on the bench.

How about the Civil Rights Division, charged with conducting this investigation?  Unfortunately, it has engaged in serial misbehavior on Attorney General Eric Holder’s watch, most famously in its dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case — after it had already won a summary judgment!  Sworn testimony by former Division lawyers reveals that the division’s policy is now to NOT enforce voting rights laws in a race-neutral manner.  And its unlawful hiring policy — “only radical ideologues need apply” — has been exposed and documented in exquisite detail.

The misdeeds of the Civil Rights Division go on and on.  It has refused to discipline or terminate employees who used their government credit card to pay for a mistress or who admitted committing perjury in an inspector general investigation.  It has persisted in filing lawsuits demanding that fire and police departments use racial quotas in hiring — though that defies Supreme Court precedent.  Its opposition to voter ID and every other common-sense election reform intended to secure the integrity of our elections further illustrates how politics drive almost every law enforcement decision being made in the division.

Those who seek a true, impartial picture of what happened in Sanford can find nothing to cheer about in the decision to have lawyers from the scandal-plagued Civil Rights Division or the ethically challenged Criminal Division investigate this tragedy.  What’s needed in this case is justice.  But when the Justice Department is inhabited — as it is today — by anti-gun, racially biased, left-wing ideologues, its investigations become automatically suspect.  And without trust, healing is not possible.

Also read: Orlando Sentinel Scrubs Clean Anti-Semitic New Black Panthers

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. He is the coauthor of the book “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”.
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