This week, President Donald Trump appointed J. Christian Adams to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. A former Department of Justice (DOJ) civil rights election lawyer, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, and a PJ Media columnist, Adams champions the original meaning of the Civil Rights Amendments (the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution). In an exclusive interview with PJ Media after his appointment, Adams explained why his commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans — including whites — not only honors Americans’ Civil War sacrifices but undermines the Left’s dangerous redefinition of civil rights, a Marxist vision that is fueling the violent riots in Portland, Seattle, and Chicago.
“The Left will use civil rights as a racial identity tool for collective power. They think that empowering certain groups of people through the law is a way for them to get and assert power. I view it as an individual thing, not a collective thing. I view it as to whether a person is discriminated against by their government, for example. That’s a real victim, that’s a real harm,” Adams told PJ Media.
Adams has represented blacks in traditional civil rights voting cases but he has also represented whites who have been disenfranchised due to the color of their skin. In the case Davis v. Guam (2020), Adams represented a white man who was barred from voting in Guam’s plebiscite because he could not trace his ancestry back to the original inhabitants of Guam. In United States v. Ike Brown (2009), Adams represented the federal government in suing a black political leader who engaged in blatant mail fraud to disenfranchise white voters (who are a minority in Noxubee County, Miss.). Adams has also vocally condemned the well-funded campaign for vote-by-mail, which denies the problem of voter fraud.
Contrasts with Obama’s DOJ
Adams’ willingness to defend white plaintiffs against black defendants in civil rights cases contrasted with the Obama DOJ’s interpretation of civil rights law, Adams told PJ Media. “The Obama people were very hostile to black defendants in civil rights cases. It gets back into the entire question are the civil rights laws intended to protect every American or just some Americans.”
Adams joined the DOJ under President George W. Bush in 2005 and received the Department’s Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in October 2008. Yet the new leadership under President Barack Obama forced him to drop a serious case of voter intimidation where New Black Panthers in full paramilitary regalia intimidated white voters at a polling place in the 2008 election.
After Adams reluctantly dropped the case United States v. The New Black Panther Party (2009), the Civil Rights Commission subpoenaed him to testify about it. “There were criminal penalties associated with non-compliance,” he told PJ Media. “The Obama Justice Department told me, ‘Don’t worry, we’re not going to enforce the law.'”
“I quit and I testified. I would rather be unemployed and not have a criminal referral hanging over my head,” Adams recounted. Had he refused to testify, the Obama DOJ could have blackmailed him. He imagined a future blackmail conversation: “We won’t prosecute you, Christian, but we don’t like that recommendation.”
Tragically, the Obama DOJ’s interpretation of civil rights law has spread throughout America. Trump’s appointment of Adams shows the president’s willingness to push back against a noxious twisting of the law that Adams described as an “abomination.”
During his time at the DOJ, Adams recalled meeting many lawyers who “thought that the civil rights laws were only designed to protect traditional racial minorities. They have a backward and unconstitutional view of things. They just don’t quite understand what the civil war amendments were all about.”
The real purpose of civil rights law
Adams has done extensive research into the civil rights amendments and their place at the end of the Civil War, and he has come to regard them with almost religious awe.
“This nation endured a ferocious upheaval to enact the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. All of the sunk wealth and calamity of a civil war were a high price indeed for these three amendments. We owe it to the generation that made them possible to fulfill the aims of these amendments,” Adams said in his official statement about his appointment to the Civil Rights Commission.
“So many people died, lost their limbs and their fortunes, to give us those three amendments: ending slavery (the 13th Amendment), equal protection (the 14th Amendment), and the right to vote (the 15th Amendment),” he told PJ Media. “To turn them into weapons to pit people against each other based on race is an abomination. It disgraces them.”
After the Union prevailed in the Civil War, the Radical Republicans controlled Congress for roughly a decade. “The Northeastern abolitionists basically controlled Congress and they controlled all the state governments in the South during Reconstruction,” Adams explained. “They were able to pass a radical revolutionary set of constitutional amendments that did something that never happened before in the history of the world.”
These civil rights amendments “enshrined in law the absolute equality of people on the basis of race. It was like the Ten Commandments coming down,” the lawyer insisted. “Everybody had to be treated equal because they were equal in the eyes of God. The political situation existed where that could pass was only a few years.”
During the congressional debates on the 15th Amendment, a senator tried to introduce an amendment allowing discrimination against Chinese people, Adams recalled. “They said, ‘No, this is universal, it applies to everyone, equally.’ It is very clear that the founders who wrote the Fifteenth Amendment meant it to apply to everyone, white, black, Asian, and every other race.”
Adams noted that a suburban school district in Chicago gave preference to black students, allowing them to return to school first as the school opened after coronavirus lockdown. “That’s exactly what the 14th Amendment was designed to prevent.”
The leftist view inspires the riots
Yet leftist lawyers consider America a fundamentally racist and unjust system and view civil rights laws as a tool to even the scales, not a guarantee of rights to be applied equally to all citizens. Adams argued that this Marxist twisting of justice has enflamed the violent antifa riots on the streets of Portland, Seattle, and Chicago.
“The view of this crowd on civil rights doesn’t tie into the rioting, it’s the genesis of it. This has been brewing for the last 15 years,” Adams told PJ Media. “We saw these crazy ideas in the Justice Department where basic ideas like jail or bail itself or voting precincts, these are all some racist scheme.”
He recalled hearing DOJ lawyers insist that “the word ‘picnic’ is racist,” long preceding the Cancel Culture efforts to erase basic words like “chief” from the English lexicon in the name of fighting racism.
“This crazy lunacy was going on inside a government agency,” Adams said. “Obama normalized it, and now it’s in the streets. Now it wants to allocate resources on the basis of race. It’s trying to turn self-defense into racism.”
“This is completely opposite to the centuries-old principles that have built Western civilization,” the lawyer added. “It eventually results in so many bad things: the eradication of mainstream culture, the appropriation of hard-earned wealth and property, violence, the suspension of the rule of law.”
In short, “it results in everything barbaric that existed before America.”
While the rioting is terrifying, Adams suggested that President Donald Trump likely enjoys far more support than the polls predict because Trump supporters are silenced by fear.
“The political violence that is being mainstreamed against Trump voters and conservatives generally is having an effect on polling data like has never occurred,” he said. “People are afraid of leftist violence and they have a civil right to engage in political discourse without being beaten up.”
“It sounds outlandish, a civil right not to be beaten up,” Adams admitted. But the DOJ has brought cases against thugs who target people for a beating based on their expression of constitutional rights like free speech.
Trump’s decision to appoint J. Christian Adams to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission may indicate a rising backlash to the Marxist reinterpretation of civil rights and the pernicious ideology behind the riots. Trump is willing to go out on a limb and appoint a commissioner who is sure to outrage the Left — precisely because he defends the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of race.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.