Eric Holder: Politicize the Department of Justice, moi?

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder seems determined to leave ’em laughing. How else can we interpret his claim earlier this week that there has “been no politicization” of the Justice Department under his watch?

John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky make short work of Holder’s claim. They write:

It was pure politics that dictated the policy that no cases be filed under the National Voter Registration Act to enforce the requirement that states maintain the accuracy of their voter rolls. It was pure politics when Holder rejected the opinion of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel — an opinion held since the Kennedy administration — that legislation intended to give the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress is unconstitutional.

Holder’s hiring practices have also been marred pure politics, especially within the Civil Rights Division. The Department of Justice’s own Inspector General found that one office in that division “passed over candidates who had stellar academic credentials with some of the best law firms in the country” in order to hire others they preferred, a majority of whom came from just five advocacy organizations that are political allies of the Obama administration.

All too often, moreover, the positions taken in court by Holder’s DOJ have been so devoid of legal merit that they can only be understood politically and/or ideologically:

Holder claims that his people have been “dedicated to doing things only on the basis of the facts and the law.” That is certainly not what a number of federal judges have thought about the abusive cases that Justice has brought under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act with the intention of intimidating the pro-life movement.

Many of these prosecutions have been thrown out for lack of evidence and for violating the First Amendment rights of peaceful protesters. A Florida case that was dismissed led the judge to wonder whether the prosecution was the “product of a concerted effort between the government and the [abortion clinic] . . . to quell [the defendant’s] activities rather than to enforce the statute.” In other words, the judge believed the defendant had been targeted for her political beliefs.

Similar cases have been filed in the area of environmental law. At the behest of the administration’s environmental allies, there was the lawsuit filed against storied guitar maker Gibson Guitar for supposedly importing prohibited wood that, the DOJ finally had to admit, was not prohibited.

Holder’s Justice Department has colluded with those same environmental groups to impose dozens of new regulatory rules through a “sue and settle” scheme by which Justice does not defend in lawsuits brought by its political friends. That allows the administration to implement the rules it wants without going through the required regulatory process, skipping public notice and review.

Holder also wants to ignore the numerous cases in which Justice has been accused of prosecutorial abuse or wrongdoing. In New Orleans, for example, in a case against local police officers, the federal judge accused the Justice Department of “grotesque prosecutorial abuse” and pointed a finger directly at Eric Holder, who presided over a major press conference announcing the indictments “with much fanfare.”…The judge reminded Justice that “the Code of Federal Regulations, and various Rules of Professional Responsibility, and ethics . . . do not take a holiday.”

And that’s not all. As Fund and von Spakovsky remind us:

Through his mishandling of Operation Fast and Furious (which provoked a contempt citation from Congress), his imposition of the Clinton-era model of handling terrorism as ordinary criminal violations, his refusal to provide Congress with the information it is entitled to in its oversight function, his arbitrary refusals to enforce or defend federal laws that he and President Obama don’t like, Holder politicized the department to an extent never before seen, despite his furious denials.

Shallow, unprincipled, partisan ideologue that he is, Holder probably sees nothing problematic about any of this. Indeed, he probably views it all as an effort heroically to align the Justice Department with the forces of good and against reactionary forces.

That’s a pretty good description of a politicized Justice Department.

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