House Judiciary Committee to investigate DoJ issues surrounding New Black Panther voter intimidation case
Jennifer Rubin reports that the House Judiciary Committee under new Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has issued its first oversight letter to the Department of Justice. Subject? The New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case as race based enforcement guidelines within the DoJ.
"Allegations that the Civil Rights Division has engaged in a practice of race-biased enforcement of voting rights law must be investigated by the Committee."
Indeed. He gives Holder and DoJ until the 21st to respond to a list of questions including whether Julie Fernandez of DoJ "explicitly or implicitly direct Voting Section staff not to enforce any section of any federal rights statute" or "not to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act." This question stems from the claim by J. Christian Adams that Fernandez directed DoJ attorneys "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."
With an all Democratic Congress, DoJ was able to weather the storm these revelations brought as Democrats successfully blocked any attempts to look into the matter officially. That has obviously changed.
Rubin makes some observations about the letter:
The letter is noteworthy on a number of levels. First, administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing. But as Smith has correctly discerned, the issue of enforcement or non-enforcement of civil rights laws based on a non-colorblind view of those laws is serious and a potentially explosive issue for this administration. Second, Holder’s strategy of stonewalling during the first two years of Obama’s term may have backfired. Had he been forthcoming while Democrats were in the majority, he might have been able to soften the blows; Smith is not about to pull his punches. And finally, Smith is demonstrating the sort of restraint and big-picture focus that is essential for the Republicans if they are to remain credible and demonstrate their capacity for governance.
Bingo on all three. A worthy issue to investigate, a worthy reason to investigate and it will indeed play to the benefit of Republicans and detriment of Democrats – particularly Holder – but also those who tried to wave it away as “no big deal”.