Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More selective justice from Holder's Justice Department

J. Christian Adams, the whistleblower who resigned from the Justice Department to expose what happened when the Department dropped its case against the New Black Panthers, has another story out about a crucial decision the Justice Department must take this week.

The case stems from Mississippi where there is critical evidence that the black Democratic Party chairman was committing outright voter fraud and intimidation of white voters in the county.
This story hails from rural east Mississippi: majority black Noxubee County is home to Ike Brown, one of the most lawless purveyors of racial discrimination the nation has seen in decades. (I have written in greater detail about the racially motivated lawlessness Brown used to victimize minority white voters in the county.) Brown canceled ballots cast by white voters. He stuffed the ballot box with illegal ballots supporting his preferred black candidates. He deployed teams of notaries to roam the countryside and mark absentee ballots instead of voters. He allowed forced assistance in the voting booth, to the detriment of white voters. He threatened 174 white voters by declaring that if they tried to participate in an election, he might challenge them and not let them vote. He publicized the 174 names.

Brown ran the primary elections because he is the Democratic Party chairman. At the trial, a woman on Brown’s list testified that she was too afraid to vote because she thought she might be arrested.

The federal court found that the publication of the list of 174 names was an illegal form of intentional racial discrimination. The United States district court held:
The question is whether Brown’s action with respect to this list of 174 voters was actuated by these party loyalty concerns or whether this was pretext for a true purpose to discourage white voters from coming to the polls, or some combination of the two. The court has carefully weighed the evidence and finds that while party concerns were a factor in Brown’s actions, race played a role as well. … In sum, the court is of the opinion that Brown had the names of these white voters published in part because of party loyalty concerns, but also as an attempt to discourage white voters from voting in the 2003 Democratic primary.

Brown’s overall behavior was so outrageous that the court stripped him of all authority to run elections until 2012, and gave the power to a former justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court as a special administrator. The remedy was unprecedented, but upheld on appeal because of the brazen lawlessness of Ike Brown.
So the guy was obviously guilty and found so in court with the decision upheld by the federal district court. End of story, fight? Well, no, because the guy is back. Ike Brown has submitted a request to the Holder Justice Department, as required by the Voting Rights Act which requires the Justice Department to rule on any change to voting procedures in several specific states or counties. If the change has discriminatory racial intent or effect on any race, the Justice Department is required by law to object to the change. So now we're waiting to see if the Holder department will sign off on Ike Brown's new request which would duplicate the same behaviors he was found guilty of before. Adams is quite pessimistic that the Holder department will uphold the law because he knows that the people there object to using voting laws to protect white voters from discrimination by blacks. We saw this in the New Black Panthers case and we're waiting to see if we'll see it again in Mississippi.
I have spoken with the victims of Brown’s past illegal behavior in Mississippi, and the DOJ hadn’t even bothered to contact any of them. In a Section 5 submission involving an African-American minority, it is standard DOJ practice to make extensive contacts with the minority community. That hasn’t happened since Brown submitted his scheme for approval on May 14, 2010. No calls, no emails, no nothing out of Justice. No concern, most likely.

In fact, the same white voters who were victimized by Brown in 2003 have begged the DOJ in multiple letters to interpose an objection to Brown’s request to bar people from voting.

Even worse for the Department, Brown told one person last month that he explicitly chose a cutoff date (where if you voted for a Republican before a certain date you could still vote in a Democratic primary) because it would preserve the ability for a number of specific black individuals to continue to participate. Does the DOJ know about this nakedly racial motivation? No — because they didn’t even do the analysis under Section 5.[Emphasis in the original]
We'll see what the Holder department decides to do and whether they believe in upholding the laws regardless of race or if they believe only in a selective application of the law.

And these aren't the only examples of the Holder rejection of a race-neutral approach to civil rights.
Two obvious examples of the Obama administration’s hostility toward race-neutral enforcement of the civil rights laws:

The Department recently filed a brief supporting the use of race-based preferences at the University of Texas. Holder’s DOJ wants Texas to be able to give extra admissions credit to the skin color of certain college applicants. Of course some races won’t get the benefit of these racial preferences, while the political allies of the administration will.

In New Haven, Connecticut, the Holder Justice Department took the side of those who wanted to racially discriminate against white and Hispanic firefighters seeking promotion. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court rejected the position of the Civil Rights Division. (It is no accident, incidentally, that senior Department attorney Steven Rosenbaum was involved in the formation of the Department’s racially biased approach in New Haven, just as he was involved in the dismissal of the New Black Panther case when he was acting deputy assistant attorney general, a political position in the Civil Rights Division.)
There are other examples that he exposes at the post. We're seeing that this administration has a very limited definition of civil rights enforcement.