This is getting tedious. A Washington Times editorial, desperate to revive the faux controversy in which the Justice Department supposedly has a policy of not prosecuting black defendants on behalf of white voters, accused the department of stiffing the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and claims that the “issue here” is “whether the Justice Department has adopted a broader policy of enforcing (or not enforcing) the law based on racial and political considerations rather than on the merits.” But the DOJ's decision to seek an extension of an injunction against black Democratic leaders in Mississippi gives lie to the accusation. Indeed, department officials made this clear in an August letter to the commission, and Commissioner Michael Yaki pointed this out during the most recent commission hearing, according to a transcript obtained by Media Matters.
The editorial claims, “The Justice Department's latest thumb in the eye of its critics came in an Aug. 11 letter from Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Mr. Perez told the commission that he will continue blocking testimony from veteran civil rights attorney Christopher Coates because Mr. Coates' stationing in South Carolina since mid-January means he is not 'the appropriate witness to testify regarding current [Civil Rights] Division policies.'” But in that very letter to the commission, Perez directly addressed what the Times itself called “the issue” of racially and politically motivate justice:
Our commitment to evenhanded enforcement of our civil rights laws extends to every part of the Division, and our work in the voting area is no exception. This commitment is evidenced by our ongoing work in Mississippi. There, the Division recently filed a Motion to prevent actions by defendants Ike Brown and the Noxubee County (Mississippi) Democratic Executive Committee on the grounds that the actions were motivated in part by racial animus against black voters. See United States' Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Its Motion For Additional Relief Against Defendants Ike Brown And The Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, United States v. Brown et al., Civil Action No. 4:05-cv-33 (TSL/LRA) (S.D.Miss) (copy enclosed). We have also undertaken to address claims that in 2005 armed agents from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office went to the homes of African Americans, many of whom were elderly, and demanded to know for whom they voted in a recent election. When we became aware of those allegations, we advised the Mississippi Attorney General's office of our concern that such intimidation not occur in the future and placed them on notice we will actively investigate any recurrence of such actions. We believe our actions in Mississippi clearly illustrate our commitment to even handed law enforcement.
According to transcript of the August 13 U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearing obtained by Media Matters, Democratic commissioner Michael Yaki directly cited the DOJ's letter and its actions in the Noxubee case and argued that they provide the answer to the very question the Washington Times so desperately claims has gone unanswered:
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.
Yaki further noted that the filing against Brown and the Noxubee Democratic Executive Committee was “perfectly consistent with what the Justice Department has been doing” and “perfectly consistent with a policy that is race-neutral.”