Politicization of Justice, part II

posted at 10:30 am on May 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, we saw that the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Department of Justice force career prosecutors to withdraw from a case that they’d already won against the New Black Panther Party over egregious voter intimidation in Philadelphia.  Today, the Washington Post reports that the DoJ now appears to be taking on a political fight against a conservative and controversial figure in Arizona.   A new investigation about alleged civil-rights violations has Sheriff Joe Arpaio fuming over what he sees as a political attack:

The lawyers representing a controversial Arizona sheriff who is under investigation for his treatment of Latino residents accused officials in the Justice and Homeland Security departments yesterday of political motivations in pursuing probes against their client.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and his office, which have drawn widespread attention for an unorthodox approach to crime and punishment, are the focus of three federal investigations into whether they violated federal rules or civil rights laws in pursuing illegal immigrants. …

Robert N. Driscoll, a District-based lawyer for Maricopa County who served as a civil rights official at the Justice Department early in the George W. Bush era, said he was seeking “assurances that political rivalries and score settling played no role in the investigations.”

In his letter, Driscoll said that a civil rights probe of the Arpaio operation began in early March, weeks after four influential Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called for an investigation into alleged discrimination and possible constitutional violations in arrests and in police searches and seizures.

I’m sure that Arpaio and Maricopa County are reassured after reading the DoJ response from their spokesman:

“Because this matter is open and ongoing, we cannot comment on the investigation other than to restate that career professionals in the Civil Rights Division began looking into this last year, and the Department made the decision to open this investigation in the same manner we make every such decision, based on the facts and the law,” Miyar said.

Oh, sure, we understand.  They will make those decisions based on the law, just as they did when they unilaterally reversed themselves in the NBPP case after they’d won it.  Because that was based on the law …. which found in the government’s favor … and which they then ignored.

Keep this in mind when the DoJ helps Norman Eisen determine who falls under the qualification of “anyone exerting influence on the [stimulus] process” in order to shut up its critics.


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