The decision by the Department of Justice to drop charges against several members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation has come under fire from an unlikely source. The US Commission on Civil Rights demanded an explanation of their decision to back away from a case the DoJ had already won, and for which they had extensive evidence, including videotape. The chair openly wondered whether Attorney General Eric Holder would have made the same decision if the KKK had been involved:
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is demanding that the Justice Department explain why it recently dismissed a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place during last year’s election, saying the department has offered only “weak justifications.”
Commission Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds, a former deputy associate attorney general under President George W. Bush, said he fears the legal precedent set by the department in its May decision to drop the case might encourage “other hate groups” to act similarly at polling locations in the future.
Mr. Reynolds also charged that other groups might not have been treated so leniently.
“If you swap out the New Black Panther Party in this case for neo-Nazi groups or the Ku Klux Klan, you likely would have had a different outcome,” he told The Washington Times in a telephone interview Monday.
“A single law, a single rule should be applied across the board. We are communicating with the department in hopes of gaining a better understanding of just what happened.”
If the White House and DoJ hoped this incident would quietly disappear, they are mistaken. The DoJ exists to enforce the law and prosecute violations of it. Few cases of voter intimidation are as clear-cut and egregious as that caught on tape during the presidential election in November, as the tape shows:
The civil right to vote without fear of intimidation and violence is so important that the Commission was created in reaction to a long history of violations of it. It’s literally their raison d’etre. As Reynolds notes, it matters not who intimidates whom; the federal government has the duty to enforce those laws regardless of who benefits from the intimidation. Otherwise, the rule of law means nothing.
Perhaps the Obama administration can blame Gregory Craig for this, too.