Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Where's the Outrage? Obama and the Black Panthers

The Dept. of Justice falls within the Executive branch of government, but it is one of the most important agencies in the nation to preserve from politicization. This was true when George W. Bush was accused of hiring and firing DOJ employees based on partisan ideology (a fatuous claim intended to prevent realignment of the left-leaning institution). The accusation was a serious attack because it alleged a lack of respect for the rule of law and equality under the law - principle foundations of the American republic.

Yet one of the first orders issued by President Obama was to dismiss a case of voter intimidation against the Black Panthers - even though the damning evidence was caught on tape and the trial had already been concluded in summary judgement against the racist group.

I initially defaulted to disbelief that the first black president could possibly be so impolitic, imprudent and downright daft as to immediately pardon radical black thugs for a crime intended to ensure Barack Obama himself was elected as president. As the beneficiary of their criminal conduct, he would surely be the first to condemn them and insist upon prompt justice. This would surely provide an Obamian "teachable moment."

It's thus shocking to read the testimony of former Department of Justice voting rights section chief Christopher Coates (he resigned after being transfered as punishment for, as the left would say, speaking truth to power). Speaking before the Civil Rights Commission, Coates relates that the Obama administration squashed the verdict because the convicts were black and the victims were white. Politico and WaPo carry the story.

Some incidents lend themselves to various explanations or justifications. I can see no explanation but prurient racism and sociological megalomania in this particular case. My greatest reservation in assessing blame to Obama is that I simply cannot believe he would be so foolish, divisive and racist as to institute the sort of race-based law-enforcement regime alleged in Coates' whistle-blowing testimony. Such obstruction of justice is a serious violation of trust and duty by the president, worthy of formal condemnation in the absence of mitigating circumstances which have not yet come to light.

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Discussions - 8 Comments

Ahmadinejad's meeting with Farrakhan and some of the New Black Panthers.

I'm pretty sure it was Christian Adams who resigned to testify to Congress some months ago, while Chris Coates is still employed at the Justice Dept (though transferred from lead council for the Voting Rights division to N.C.) but testified against the instructions of his superiors. He is relying on the whistleblower laws to protect him from retribution. He never resigned, to my knowledge.

It's worth reading the very readable Coates testimony. PJmedia is one place.

One of the things it makes clear is that the problem of bad "victim-ology racists" (not racists plain and simple) being in positions of authority in DoJ's CRD preceded Obama's tenure. The top culprits: Loretta King, and a woman named Fernandes. Republicans in Congress must demand their firing, for both of these women baldly stated that the CRD (from 2009 on) would not pursue Voting Rights Act cases in which it was whites that were claiming violations of their rights. Under Bush, King and other victimology-racists tried to thwart efforts to pursue such cases. That proves nothing one way or the other about Obama's involvement in DoJ not pursuing the Panther case...but I think it does make more plausible a narrative of innocent and naive ole' Barry not knowing about the way King's and Fernandes' ethnic-group "pride" actually shaded into an outright refusal to use govt. resources to defend the rights of whites.

And if Obama DID know about and endorsed their overall approach, well, this gets very serious...strikes me as PERHAPS an impeachable-level offense. Is it not a serious misdemeanor for a government official to endorse racially selective application of a law? Those who know might indicate what sorts of legal remedies have been sought when other federal or state officials have deliberately shut down cases of similar nature.

Not that it would be good for America for conservatives to pursue an impeachment even if a sound legal precedent and rationale was there...indeed, let's all just forget that I said the I-word just now...because if you connect the I-word to racial matters and to B. Obama, you are playing with serious fire.

One thing you might attempt is to dissolve the Department of Justice into three components: a federal sheriff's department which comprehends the investigatory agencies and prison service, a counsel's department that provides legal advice to the executive and represents federal agencies as the defendants in civil suits and as a friend of the court, and a federal prosecution service which initiates criminal charges and civil suits. The former two could be ordinary executive departments and the last could be an appendage to the judiciary whose officials serve fixed terms (3-4 years) and can be discharged only by a joint resolution of Congress after a hearing.

None of the above is a substitute for properly crafted legislation and a decent institutional culture in prosecutor's offices. The creation of a federal ombudsman and exposing errant prosecutors to tort suits might help with the latter.

That will not make any difference if the bias of those within the departments is allowed and allowable.

This is a scandal and if the president gives it a pass -- no, to raise the prospect of impeachment is probably counter-productive. This should be fought in the arena of public opinion, lest there be more such cases. If the president does nothing, accepts such racism, allows it, accepts it, then it should inform public opinion at election time. The question that has the public upset and Democrats moribund (as the president is complaining they are) is over the direction of the nation. He was elected because the nation desired a color-blind America. If he cannot offer that and his administration is not even about that -- it is outrageous.

Such cases are pretty rare and it feels like you guys are reaching here.

Still there is a federal cause of action under 1983. Could possibly be a cause of action against the police officer who is certainly a state actor and acting under "color of law" and also against the poll watcher.

Whatever white guy was harmed has standing, he only has to find a lawyer to bring suit.

Note that 1983 does tend to favor racial minorities, and that courts have basically said that there isn't the kind of discrimination in the south/state courts that used to exist so as to justify this federal tort. There are some pretty radical examples of both black on white and white on black, hispanic on black excetera cases that fail, mostly when the actor was not acting as a state actor or under color of law. The courts used to be generous with 1983, now they are tight fisted, in the 1970's you can find borderline cases that went for the victim, today a cop could be 5 minutes off duty in full uniform and driving a police cruiser, pull you over drag you out of your car and beat you half to death and half the jurisdictions will say that being off duty (and the personal motive for beating you up) makes it an action not undertaken under "color of law".

But if there are facts to get upset about, then there is a 1983 case. You don't need to relly upon the prosecutor to bring the suit, and you file it in federal court.

John, so the victim of voting rights discrimination (in a case not brought by govt. prosecutors) can initiate a lawsuit to do which, get the discrimination brought to court and hopefully win a conviction, or, above and beyond that, punish through a separate case/conviction the govt. decision makers who decided themselves not to initiate or aid the case, or, win a "case" that forces the govt. actors here to prosecute a discrimination case?

No, I have no looked up the legal def. of "cause of action."

Would we blithely insist that black people who were intimidated at a polling place go get an attorney? The facts of this case are clear, and what was done was clearly illegal. What's the problem, then? I'll tell you -- a racist Obama administration. In their minds, black folks can't be racists, nor can they be blamed for taking the law into their own hands. They are OWED, don't you see?

This is what comes from 50 years of grievance-building. It's long since time to stop patronizing black people and start treating them as fully-fledged citizens, with all the rights (AND RESPONSIBILITIES) attached to that status.

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