The right-wing media is relying on completely unsubstantiated allegations about what Justice Department officials have said to accuse the DOJ of refusing to enforce voting-rights laws against racial minorities. However, the facts clearly show that the DOJ has, in fact, enforced voting-rights laws when the alleged violators are racial minorities.
Right-wing media says DOJ won't enforce voting-rights laws against racial minorities
Washington Times: Coates showed Civil Rights Divison “refuse[d] to enforce civil rights laws to protect white victims against black perpetrators.” A September 24 Washington Times editorial called on Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez to “clean house at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division,” claiming that Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates “named names and gave numerous examples of how the division and its political supervisors refuse to enforce civil rights laws to protect white victims against black perpetrators.” The editorial accused the Voting Section of “deliberately unequal enforcement of the law,” “racially unequal enforcement -- and a dangerous abrogation of justice.”
Special Report advances Coates' claim that Mississippi case shows DOJ opposed to “equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.” From the September 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
CENTANNI: Coates testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights after being told by his superiors not to appear. He said many of those who showed hostility to equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act are now in top positions at Justice, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, who according to Coates held a meeting to discourage cases being brought that weren't, quote, “the traditional kind.”
COATES: When Ms. Hernandes made that statement, everyone in the room understood exactly what she meant. No more cases like Ike Brown, and no more cases like the New Black Panther Party case.
CENTANNI: Ike Brown is a Democratic Party leader in Noxubee County, Mississippi, who is accused of election fraud targeting white voters. Coates says those calling the shots in the Obama Justice Department were angry those cases had been brought.
COATES: That anger was the result of their deep-seated opposition to the equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against racial minorities and for the protection of white voters who have been discriminated against.
Bream advances claim that DOJ officials “do not want to prosecute cases that involve minorities.” On the September 26 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Shannon Bream cited Coates' testimony to claim that DOJ “officials” “do not want to prosecute cases that involve minority -- people who are accused like [New Black Panther Party members] at the polling place in that video.” Guests Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Todd Gaziano, a Republican on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, cited Coates' testimony to accuse DOJ officers of “hostility to race-neutral enforcement of the civil rights laws.” Bream also falsely claimed that the DOJ had “dropped” the case against the New Black Panther Party member Shabazz “despite the evidence.”
But the DOJ has actually enforced voting-rights laws when the alleged violators were racial minorities
Obama DOJ actually seeking to extend injunction in that case against black leaders who discriminated against white voters. In 2007, a federal judge determined that Ike Brown, chairman of the Noxubee (Mississippi) County Democratic Executive Committee, discriminated against white voters. As part of an injunction against Brown, Judge Reuben Anderson was named referee-administrator responsible for overseeing Democratic primaries through 2011. But earlier this year, the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, chaired by Brown, submitted a request under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to create a closed Democratic primary. In a July 12 letter T. Christian Herren, chief of the DOJ's voting section, responded to that request and wrote that “it would be inappropriate for the Attorney General to make a determination concerning your submission.” In addition to reaffirming that Brown has no standing to make such requests, the Justice Department also filed a motion to extend the 2007 injunction against Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Party for an additional two years, citing Brown's and the Noxubee Democratic Party's efforts to “dictate the terms of electoral qualifications,” which “violated the Remedial Order.” In seeking additional penalties against Brown, the Justice Department explicitly cited the potential harm to white voters.
Civil Rights commissioner: DOJ's actions “perfectly consistent with a policy that is race-neutral.” Citing a letter by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez noting the DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case, Democratic commissioner Michael Yaki argued that the case is “perfectly consistent with what the Justice Department has been doing,” and “perfectly consistent with a policy that is race-neutral.” Yaki further noted:
YAKI: You're trying to look for evidence of further evidence of a policy by the Department to not enforce the laws in a race-neutral manner when, in fact, what this letter states is that very clearly in the Noxubee case, which was a case where a county Democratic chair, who is African American, was doing all of these pretty awful things to suppress the white vote, the Department of Justice got involved, and there was a filing made this year.
Obama DOJ obtained default judgment against New Black Panthers leader for carrying weapon outside polling station. On May 18, 2009, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered default judgment against New Black Panther Party member Samir Shabazz. In his May 14 testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez stated that the Justice Department had obtained “sufficient evidence to sustain the charge” of voter intimidation against Shabazz, identified by Perez as “the defendant who had the nightstick,” and that “the default judgment was sought and obtained as it related to him.”
Obama Justice Department briefs sought default judgement on basis of Shabazz's violation of Voting Rights Act. Court documents filed in the case by the Obama administration's Department of Justice say that Shabazz violated the Voting Rights Act. From the Justice Department's motion for default judgment, filed on May 15, 2009:
The Complaint in this action sets out a valid claim for a violation of Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973i(b), by Defendant. In consequence of the Clerk's entry of default, the factual allegations of the Complaint regarding the Defendant are taken as true. [Emphasis added]
From the Justice Department's memorandum of law in support of motion for default judgment, filed on May 15, 2009:
IV. The Defendant's Conduct Violated Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act.
1. The unchallenged facts in this case constitute a violation of Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act. [Emphasis in original]