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  • Justice Must Address Lawlessness Uncovered by Christopher Coates

    Friday’s testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by Christopher Coates — a career Justice Department lawyer and supervisor — knocked down the Potemkin Village that the Obama administration has built to obscure why Justice officials dismissed a voter-intimidation case against two members of New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.

    Coates, former chief of the Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division, testified that Justice officials purposefully dropped the New Black Panthers case because they didn’t want to enforce the Voting Rights Act against minority defendants accused of violating the law.

    Coates’ sworn testimony to the independent Civil Rights Commission supported accusations made previously in testimony by J. Christian Adams, a former career lawyer in the Voting Section.

    In a long and detailed opening statement, Coates sought to confirm the truth of Adams’ charges.

    Most disturbing was Coates’ description of a culture of animus within the Civil Rights Division toward race-neutral enforcement of federal voting rights laws. He described an atmosphere of harassment directed at lawyers and paralegals who worked on the NBPP case, and on an earlier case filed in Noxubee, Mississippi, against Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon and political activist who runs Noxubee County. Like the defendants in the Philadelphia case, he is black.

    Lawyers and other staff within the Voting Section also refused to work on the Brown case, Coates testified, because they did not believe the Justice Department should prosecute blacks or other racial minorities — no matter what law they violated. Coates testified that he had complained about this attitude and unwritten policy to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, a political appointee.

    When Perez testified before the Civil Rights Commission, he said no such policy or problem existed.

    Coates, in a lawyerly manner, dismantled the Obama administration’s justifications for dismissing the case against the New Black Panthers accused of intimidating white voters on Election Day 2008:

    To understand the irrationality of these articulated reasons for gutting this case, one only has to state the facts in the racial reverse.

    Assume that two members of the KKK, one of which lived in an apartment building that was being used as a polling place, showed up at the entrance in KKK uniform, and that one of the Klansman was carrying a billy stick. Further assume that the two Klansmen were yelling racial slurs at black voters who were a minority of people registered to vote at this polling place, and the Klansmen were blocking ingress to the polling place. Assume further that a local policeman comes on the scene and determines that the Klansman with the billy club must leave, but that the other Klansman could stay because he was certified as a poll watcher for a local political party.

    In those circumstances does anyone seriously believe that the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights would contend that on the basis of the facts and law, the CRD [Civil Rights Division] did not have a case under the VRA [Voting Rights Act] against this hypothetical Klansman because … he was allowed to stay at the polling place by a local police officer because he was a poll watcher?

    I certainly hope Mr. Perez would not find that hypothetical case lacking in merit, and I will guarantee you that Ms. King, Mr. Rosenbaum, Mr. Kappelhoff, and Ms. Clarke would not either. However, such reasons are a part of the publicly articulated grounds for the CRD’s decision to instruct me to dismiss a significant portion of the NBPP case.

    Coates also recounted directives received from political appointee Julie Fernandes, deputy assistant attorney general for Civil Rights. He supported Adams’ testimony that Fernandes made it clear in meetings with Voting Section staff that the Obama administration was interested only in filing “traditional types” of voting rights cases that would “provide political equality for racial and language minority voters.” Coates testified that everyone in the room understood what that meant: “No more cases like the Ike Brown or NBPP cases.”

    Coates also testified that in another meeting with Voting Section staff, Fernandes said the Obama administration was not interested in enforcing the provision of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act that requires states to maintain voter registration lists by regularly removing ineligible voters — for instance, the names of voters who have died or moved away.

    In September 2009, Coates testified, he sent a memorandum to Fernandes and the “Front Office” of the Civil Rights Division (the assistant attorney general’s political staff) in which he recommended opening investigations of eight states that appeared to be in non-compliance with the list-maintenance procedures. He did not get approval for the project, and it has yet to be acted on, Coates said — suggesting political appointees are not pursuing possible violations of law.

    Prosecutorial discretion does not allow prosecutors “to decide not to do any enforcement of a law enacted by Congress because political appointees determined that they are not interested in enforcing the law,” Coates testified. “That is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”

    Coates made another incident public for the first time. He testified that when he became chief of the Voting Section in 2008, he began asking job applicants a new question after seeing experienced employees refuse to work on the Ike Brown case. He would ask applicants “whether they would be willing to work on cases that involved claims of racial discrimination against white voters, as well as cases that involved claims of discrimination against minority voters,” Coates testified.

    Coates added that he “did not want to hire people who were politically or ideologically opposed to the equal enforcement of the voting statutes the Voting Section is charged with enforcing.”

    When Loretta King was named acting assistant attorney general for Civil Rights after President Obama’s inauguration, Coates testified, she called him to her office. King had heard about the question Coates was asking. She “specifically instructed” Coates that he “was not to ask any other applicants whether they would be wiling to, in effect, race-neutrally enforce the VRA.”

    King took offense that Coates was asking that question, he testified, “because she [did] not support equal enforcement of the provision of the VRA and had been highly critical of the filing and civil prosecution of the Ike Brown case.”

    Coates, a veteran voting rights litigator whose awards include honors from the NAACP, testified that he believes King, Fernandes, and other lawyers within Justice violated their oath to faithfully execute the law when they selectively enforced the Voting Rights Act based on the race of the victim and the perpetrator.

    Biased enforcement, he testified, will encourage violations by election officials who happen to be minorities, because they will not fear repercussions from the Justice Department. In our “increasingly multiethnic society, that is a clear recipe to undermine the public’s confidence in the legitimacy of our electoral process,” he told the commission.

    Unless senior officials at Justice take steps to repudiate such policies, they will destroy public confidence in the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of voting rights laws, and its stewardship of the election process. If Fernandes and King have the views described by Coates, they should resign or be fired. And Perez has a responsibility to explain why he misinformed the Civil Rights Commission and why he took no steps to investigate problems Coates identified to him.

    The public needs to know that such policies are not approved by Obama appointees within the Justice Department. Because if it is the case, Americans will hold the highest officials of the Obama administration to account.

    Cross-posted at Pajamas Media.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to Justice Must Address Lawlessness Uncovered by Christopher Coates

    1. Breuss, Dayton says:

      "Voting statues"? :-)

    2. Billie says:

      There has to be accountability and reprimand!

      Obama's government seems to hold the white of mankind to the highest of expectations? The law applies, equally. No race, creed or culture exempt from civil law or the enforcements for violations thereof. If you're human, you're expected to follow..

    3. Peter Floyd, Charlot says:

      We are all in debt to Christopher Coates, who at great risk to himself is confirming J. Christian Adams' testimony earlier this year.

    4. Bobbie says:

      and isn't it a bit odd that government would focus on bullying in government schools and expense the cost to tax payers while they have their government puppets influencing it without accountability?

    5. DRW New Jersey says:

      Great job Hans von Spakovsky!

      The DOJ is looking more like the Dept. of Dirty Tricks! What's next steal the next election?

    6. dennis georgia says:

      I would think that "racism" is alive and well in the white house as well as the doj. Our "guvment" is and has become a joke.

    7. Steve S. California says:

      What we have here is the "payback" generation in action. Ignorance (of the self serving type) has replaced intellect. The FACTS that they wish to ignore are these: Discrimination is a crime totally independent of the direction in which it is aimed. Bigotry is an equal opportunity destroyer. Neither has an up side save for those short sighted fools who will "benefit" short term, and care about nothing else. It is dismaying, to say the least, watching folks who will trash this country at any available opportunity (including our president and first lady) pouring gasoline on the fire while supposedly trying to put it out. It is this kind of fundamental intellectual dishonesty that has kept us from the dream so far, and will continue to do so until we weed it out and hold the elite accountable for their actions.Until then, the human traged continues unabated.

    8. wm;ky says:

      Heritage. I write a post, possibly forget a "vaild e-mail address" but do not believe so, and I lose the post I have filled out? Not sure what you are looking for but this is quite irritating. Long time supporter that is losing enthusiasm for your site.

    9. Sprinklerman,PA says:

      One of the founding principles of this country is that it is a country of laws equally enforced. If this isn't addressed by the Obama administration, is this not malfeasance? Is this not a reason to remove not only Loretta King and Eric Holder? Shouldn't Perez be prosecuted for perjury?

    10. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      Another Dem. trick, guess they didn't read the Declaration of Independence. On July 4th 1776, these were declared, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for ONE people to dissolve political bands which have connected them to one anothe and to assume among the powers of the earth, the seperate and EQUAL station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the seperation.

      Wehold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with cetain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS." I don't see where it says one should decide, by color or natonal origin, who should be able to vote,live free or otherwise, these were reaffirmed by admendments to the Constitution, abolishing poll taxes, etc. The justice dept. has committed a crime against humanity and our Goverment.

    11. Jill, California says:

      Obama has done tremendous harm to race relations in this country. It's been an enormous setback and embarrassment.

    12. Monica, PA says:

      When even one person is denied the ability to vote, it undermines the entire process and the people's confidence that our elections are fair and just. The color of the person who is denied or harassed is irrelevant. We must get past the idea that certain minorities must be "paid back" by this generation for the "sins" of past generations. Justice should and must be color blind. Those who think to engineer justice and fairness by awarding more fairness and more justice to minorities are absolutely wrong!

    13. anon says:

      Impeachment is another option, we don't need Obama's permission for this. Impeachment also carries a ban for life for federal service, the ban cannot be pardoned by anyone.

    14. DanJ1, Suburban Detr says:


      But it's okay in the Obama administration.

    15. Shawitz, Florida says:

      I believe the matter of Obama's eligibility is the most important issue we face as a nation. Sound ridiculous ? Hear me out. If we can absolutely prove Obama was not qualified to be President we can dispute and repeal every Presidential executive order, every piece of legislation he has signed, every act and affect by anyone or anything appointed by, approved by, suggested by him etc. We can remove "anything Obama" from his time as President including anything he or his subordinants changed, amended, added, etc., starting on the very first second of his Presidency. The 44th President will be the next President after G.W. Bush !. Ain't it wonderful ? I would even remove anything associated with him from any government building and take back anything given by him to anyone officially as President. I would remove any mention of him on any official Federal Gov.document or presentation, etc.. Only after this was complete would I go after his accomplices who perpetrated this fraud on "we the people. Expunge him from history, put him in Jail, seek repaymentt of all monies given to him and for his total expense to the U.S. taxpayer.

      This despicable human being has wronged us and brought our nation to the precipice. He deserves to be humbled and shamed.

    16. Jerry, New York says:

      Fernandez, King, etc. should not be fired. They should be assigned cases to prosecute that involve minority violations of the VRA. Should they not agree to prosecute the cases, they should be fired for cause. Should they do a poor job on such cases, then they should tender their resignations in light of their poor performance.

    17. Jerry, New York says:

      Re Jerry, New York: Of course, it will have to be President Obama who insists upon the remedy of assigning the minority violation cases to these recalcitrant Federal employees. Should he fail to require enforcement of the law, he should be impeached and tried for failing to uphold the laws of the United States.

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