Attorney General Eric Holder may be the face of the Justice Department, but behind the scenes, a little-known assistant attorney general named Loretta King (no relation to Martin Luther King, Jr.) has been the driving force behind the DOJ’s recent, most questionable racially motivated decisions.
Neck-deep in the more divisive civil rights cases of the past several years — most notably the New Black Panther voter intimidation case and the recent Dayton, Ohio police department’s testing standards issue — the Obama appointed assistant attorney general has many wondering whether her guide is the law or racial politics.
“Some of the most outlandish policies of the Holder Justice Department over the last two years flow directly from Loretta King’s worldview,” J. Christian Adams, who worked with King while serving as a voting rights attorney at the Justice Department, told The Daily Caller.
According to Adams, race-based decision making has been a consistent staple of King’s actions and resume.
In testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about the New Black Panther case, former DOJ Voting Rights Section chief Christopher Coates explained that King ordered him to stop asking trial attorney applicants whether they would have a problem dealing with cases involving white victims.
“In the spring of 2009, Ms. King, who had by then been appointed Acting AAG [assistant attorney general] for Civil Rights by the Obama Administration, called me to her office and specifically instructed me that I was not to ask any other applicants whether they would be willing to, in effect, race-neutrally enforce the VRA [Voting Rights Act],” he testified. “Ms. King took offense that I was asking such a question of job applicants and directed me not to ask it because she does not support equal enforcement of the provisions of the VRA.”
Coates’ question was the centerpiece of the much publicized New Black Panther voter intimidation case, which centered around an incident in which members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a Philadelphia voting precinct dressed in militia style garb, one wielding a nightstick, and shouting racial epithets at the potential white voters during the 2008 presidential election.
According to testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, King, in consultation with Steve Rosenbaum, chief of DOJ’s Housing and Civil Enforcement section, was the attorney who ordered the dismissal of the case.
In light of the controversy, which caused the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to launch an investigation into the process, the DOJ issued a statement denying any racial basis for their decision to dismiss the case.
“The department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved,” said a DOJ spokesman. “We are committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of both the civil and criminal provisions of the federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation.”
Civil Rights Commissioner Todd Gaziano, however, was not only horrified by the decision to dismiss the case, but by what the investigation actually turned up.
“The bigger issue was the testimony we uncovered while we were trying to investigate — that there is a pervasive atmosphere of hostility to race-neutral enforcement and that Loretta King led the effort,” Gaziano told TheDC. “The most important thing was testimony from four witnesses…that there is a racial double standard to the enforcement and that Loretta King shared and directed it as acting head. That is what the evidence suggests. And no one in the Justice Department has denied the specific facts or specific allegations. All we have are denials of the conclusion.”