We learned from the mainstream media during the administration of George W. Bush that the politicization of justice is a grave offense (even if Bush didn’t commit it). In the first year of the Obama administration, we saw how justice can be politicized when the Department of Justice dismissed the civil rights charges brought against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation at a polling station in Philadelphia on election day 2008. Jennifer Rubin provides a useful summary of the case:
On Election Day 2008, two members of the New Black Panther party (NBPP) dressed in military garb were captured on videotape at a Philadelphia polling place spouting racial epithets and menacing voters. One, Minister King Samir Shabazz, wielded a nightstick. It was a textbook case of voter intimidation and clearly covered under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
A Department of Justice trial team was assigned to investigate. They gathered affidavits from witnesses–one of the poll watchers was called a “white devil” and a “cracker.” A Panther told him he would be “ruled by the black man.” The trial team, all career Justice attorneys and headed by voting section chief Chris Coates, filed a case against the two Panthers caught on tape. Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the national NBPP, and the party itself were also named based on evidence the party had planned the deployment of 300 members on Election Day and on statements after the incident in which the NBPP endorsed the intimidation at the Philadelphia polling station.
The trial team quickly obtained a default judgment–meaning it had won the case because the New Black Panther party failed to defend itself. Yet in May 2009, Obama Justice Department lawyers, appointed temporarily to fill top positions in the civil rights division, ordered the case against the NBPP dismissed. An administration that has pledged itself to stepping-up civil rights enforcement dropped the case and, for over a year, has prevented the trial team lawyers from telling their story.
The Obama administration’s dismissal of the charges occurred over the stalwart opposition of Christopher Coates and J. Christian Adams, the career Department of Justice attorneys who brought it. For his efforts, Coates has been reassigned to South Carolina. Hans von Spakovsky reported Coates’s remarks on the occasion of his departure from the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice earlier this year.
Coates’s colleage Christian Adams has now resigned from the Department of Justice and is free to discuss the case. Adams discussed the case last week in the Washington Times column “Inside the Black Panther case.” Adams returned to the subject yesterday in the equally important Pajamas Media column “Unequal law enforcement reigns at Obama’s DoJ.” PJTV has also posted an interview with Adams on the case.
Adams writes of the case in a manner that one would think might attract the attention of organizations devoted to the dissemination of news: “The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice attorney.” Adams describes a genuine scandal.
Indeed, Coates and Adams are principal actors with first-hand knowledge of this scandal. What they reveal is the tortured ground on which the Obama administration has overridden their efforts to bring the New Black Panther Party to justice. It is the by now familiar Orwellian ground that when it comes to the administration of justice, some are more equal than others.
This is a scandal that, thanks to Rubin, von Spakovsky, and Adams, is now hiding in plain sight. The basic facts of the case were captured in real time on video (above). Yet other than a few posts by Dave Weigel regarding the Civil Rights Commission’s hearings in the case on the Post site, I cannot find a trace of it in either the Washington Post or the New York Times. While justice has been politicized in a most disgusting manner in the Obama administration, the mainstream media have averted their eyes and moved on.