The New Black Panther Party case: Just blow it

Paul Mirengoff has been deliberating over the proper weight to be accorded the story involving the dismissal the case against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia by the powers-that- be in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. I’m one of those who thought it was a big story, not so much because of the dismissal per se as because of the rationale underlying it. According to whistleblower J. Christian Adams, the dismissal derived from the Obama Department of Justice’s view that voting rights cases should be pursued depending on the race of the victim and/or the perpetrator.
Adams served as a career attorney working the case. He was in a position to evaluate its merits and to ascertain why the case was treated as it was. He has resigned in protest of the department’s treatment of the case. He has written columns about the case for Pajamas Media. He has also testified under oath before the Civil Rights Commission on the case, and the powers-that-be in the Department of Justice have refused to allow serving attorneys to respond to the commission’s subpoenas.
The exile of Adams’s colleague Christopher Coates to South Carolina tends to support Adams’s testimony. Coates is the former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department; he was relieved of his post on January 5 and “transferred” to South Carolina for an 18-month assignment with the U.S. attorney’s office.
Jennifer Rubin provided a concise summary of the case in her Weekly Standard article on it. I think this should be a big story, and I know it would be viewed as a scandal of epic proportions to which we would be treated on a daily basis if a similar story arose in a Republican administration. It is the sickening double standard of the mainstream media that adds the frisson of disgust to what is otherwise an interesting story in itself.
Has the story been overblown by conservative commentators on the Internet and/or underblown by the mainstream media? To Paul’s discussions we can now add the contribution of Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander.
Alexander considers whether the Washington Post was right to have ignored the story until last week. Alexander judges that the Post should have attended to the story “because it’s a controversy that screams for clarity that The Post should provide. If Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his department are not colorblind in enforcing civil rights laws, they should be nailed. If the Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation is purely partisan, that should be revealed. If Adams is pursuing a right-wing agenda, he should be exposed.” Alexander’s judgment is somewhat reserved at this point.
Why did the Post sit on the story until last week? Here Alexander relays the testimony of National Editor Kevin Merida. Merida termed the controversy “significant” and said he wished the Post had written about it sooner. “The delay was a result of limited staffing and a heavy volume of other news on the Justice Department beat, he said.” Unfortunately, Alexander reserves his judgment on this excuse as well.
FOOTNOTE: Roger L. Simon is not favorably impressed with Merida’s excuse. And it should be noted that CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford plays the story straight in this report.
JOHN adds: I think it is significant that the case had already been won–the defendants had defaulted–when Holder directed that the proceeding be dismissed. So his act had nothing to do with enforcement priorities; rather, it was a politically or ideologically motivated intervention on behalf of the New Black Panther Party.

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