Rocking the Vote: Did DOJ Try to Whitewash Black Panther Intimidation Case?
Last August, the Hicks File reported on a very strange federal legal case. Let me refresh your memory.
On Election Day 2008, two men -- identified as members of the New Black Panther Party -- stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia dressed in military clothing. Videotape captured these two strolling back and forth in front of the polling place, with one clearly brandishing a nightstick.
A white poll watcher testified that he was called a “white devil” and a “cracker.” This poll watcher was told by one of the Panthers that he would be “ruled by the black man.”
This is classic voter intimidation as defined by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Justice Department investigated the charges, affidavits were gathered, and a trial team -- all seasoned Justice attorneys -- filed a case against the two thugs as well as against their organization, the New Black Panther Party.
It was thought to be a “slam-dunk” case.
A default judgment was quickly granted, because the New Black Panther Party simply failed to mount a defense.
Justice prevails, right? Wrong! Last May, Obama Justice Department lawyers ordered the case against the New Black Panther party dismissed.
It was truly a WTF moment.
But hold on … there have been some new and unexpected developments. Two prominent members of the trial team at the Justice Department have now resigned. And they’re in a talking mood!
After resigning, J. Christian Adams -- a veteran lawyer in the Justice Department’s voting section -- wrote a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights which spelled out the reason for his resignation: the appalling decision by his superiors to pull the plug on a guaranteed court victory.
(Adams has since written an article for PJM on this topic as well.)
Earlier, the Civil Rights Commission had subpoenaed Adams and another career Justice attorney, Chris Coates. But in violation of federal law, their superiors at Justice had ordered them not to testify.
Both Adams and Coates are now free to talk.
I should again re-state my connections to this case. I am a California Advisory Board member to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, so I so have a dog in this fight.
What has now emerged in the wake of these resignations is the possible cause of the Justice Department’s abandonment of the case and a subsequent cover-up of its actions.
The trail is hard to trace, but here’s what appears to have happened:
After senior Bush administration Justice officials signed off on prosecuting the New Black Panther Party, a decision was made to file the case. It was assessed as a serious case of voter intimidation and an easy case to win.
After the Panthers were unable to mount a defense, the trial team was set to enter a default judgment, when acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Rosenbaum sent a message to the trial team that he had doubts about the case.
Rosenbaum -- an Obama appointee -- argued that the case raised “serious First Amendment issues.”
The trial team fired back a response, which in essence pointed out that dressing in military garb did not raise First Amendment concerns when “used with the brandishing of a weapon to intimidate people going to the polling station.”
In other words, are you nuts?
After angry exchanges between Obama’s assistant attorney general and the trial team, the order finally came down to scuttle the case.
In an attempt to cover up what appears to be politically motivated intervention by officials at the highest level of Obama’s Justice Department, the Department denies that Obama appointees were involved in the decision to end the case.
This appears to be a flat-out lie.
Eric Holder, as well as Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, were briefed on the case, and the conclusion by insiders is that a decision as extraordinary as this -- to dismiss a blatant case of voter intimidation -- had to come from the highest ranks of government.
But more mischief has been uncovered.
It now turns out that the NAACP had vigorously lobbied the attorney general’s office to dismiss the case against the Panthers. Kristen Clarke, an NAACP attorney, admitted that she spoke with Justice Department lawyers about the case, as well as a voting section attorney, and even pressed them for a dismissal date for the case.
But still, why would the Obama Justice department dismiss such a clear violation of voting rights?
The answer appears to be that a belief exists among the liberal core of government civil rights attorneys that civil rights laws exist only to protect minorities from discrimination, and in the case of voting rights, from the intimidation of whites.
Those familiar with the inner workings of the Justice Department say this belief dominates the approach to civil rights cases, with liberal-oriented government attorneys objecting to cases filed against black defendants.
These taxpayer-supported lawyers point to the history of official discrimination against “people of color” that, in their view, trumps everything else. Meaning that they will often refuse to work on cases brought against blacks.
This sentiment is similar to the oddball view among liberals and leftists that only whites can actually be racists.
Now, I’m willing to bet that you’ve come to another conclusion: that bigots can come in all skin colors, and that civil rights laws exist for the protection of all Americans, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.
But this is the era of Obama, which means that another form of logic -- well, actually illogic -- prevails.
Meanwhile, the thugs at the New Black Panther Party thumb their noses at us, having so far escaped punishment for doing precisely what white bigots used to do prior to the passing of civil rights laws and the enforcement of those laws.
How do we change this?
Come November, vote to change the balance of power in the Senate and perhaps even the House. Only this will allow the kind of oversight that might put the Panthers back where they belong -- in the crosshairs of an aggressive government civil rights prosecution.