Does Jenifer Rubin know what it means for something to “come to light?”
Rubin returned today to her beat promoting the preposterous claim that the Obama Justice Department has a policy of not enforcing voting rights laws when the alleged perpetrators are racial minorities. More specifically, Rubin is cheerleading for House Republicans and efforts to turn this trumped-up controversy into a congressional witch hunt.
In a Washington Post blog post, Rubin fixated on a letter from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) hinting at a congressional investigation into the DOJ's handling of voter intimidation charges against members of the fringe New Black Panther Party stemming from the 2008 election. According to Rubin, during an investigation into the DOJ's handling of the case by the right-wing dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “it came to light that a political appointee, Julie Fernandes, directed Justice Department attorneys 'not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims.'”
This statement, Rubin claimed, is “the heart of the matter.” But it's nothing more than the fantasy of right-wing activists looking to bring down the Obama administration.
In her screed, Rubin gives no indication as to how this explosive allegation “came to light.” In reality, the only thing that “came to light” during the Fox News-driven, manufactured scandal is that right-wing activists connected to the highly politicized Bush-era Justice Department claimed that Fernandes said this.
Strike that. They claimed that they were able to read Fernandes' mind and interpret what she really meant to say.
In May testimony before the Civil Rights Commission, GOP activist and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams claimed:
It became perfectly clear to me that not only was there open hostility toward equal enforcement in a colorblind way of the voting rights laws, but instructions were given in this regard.
I was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims, that if somebody wanted to bring these cases it was up to the U.S. Attorney, but the Civil Rights Division wasn't going to be bringing it.
Incidentally, it “came to light” during this testimony that Adams never heard Julie Fernandes say that Justice Department attorneys were “not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims.” Adams acknowledged that he wasn't even in the room when this comment was supposedly made. He then clarified that Fernandes allegedly said no such thing:
The statement was that we were in the business of doing traditional civil rights work, and, of course, everybody knows what that means, and helping minorities -- helping -- litigating on their behalf.
Christopher Coates, a DOJ attorney who defended the Bush DOJ's overly politicized hiring practices and who acknowledged being a “true member” of that highly politicized Justice Department team, also testified that Fernandes never said the very words that are -- according to Rubin -- the heart of the matter.
In a bit of pre-emptive defense, Rubin claims that “administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing.” But she doesn't address the fact that Abigail Thernstrom -- a voting-rights expert and the conservative vice chair of the Civil Rights Commission -- has called the case “small potatoes” and an effort by conservatives to "topple the administration." Thernstrom herself ridiculed the suggestion that Fernandes uttered the words that are supposed to be “the heart of the matter”:
VICE CHAIR THERNSTROM: It is simply impossible to believe that Julie Fernandes said anything remotely like “We are not going to enforce civil rights laws when blacks are defendants.”
I mean, she cannot have said that. Maybe she said something that some people interpreted as saying that. But she surely didn't announce that. I mean, unless she is some sort of moron - and she certainly could not have been speaking for the Department if she was a moron.
In actuality, the heart of the matter should be what the Justice Department has actually done, not what discredited right-wing activists with an ax to grind say Julie Fernandes meant to say. As we have noted, in addition to obtaining the injunction against New Black Panther King Samir Shabazz, the Justice Department under Obama extended an injunction against Ike Brown and other black leaders in Noxubee County, Mississippi, based in part on concerns that they were seeking to discriminate against white voters.