The position of attorney general of the United States of America ought to command the highest level of respect. One of only four cabinet positions that can trace its origins to the administration of George Washington, it is among the highest stations in American life: chief law enforcement officer of a constitutional republic that stands, like no other country in the world, for the concept of equality before the law.
Yet during the tenure of Eric Holder, the Justice Department has become anything but a neutral arbiter. Indeed, who you are — and how that identity fits into the political schema of the left — is the most accurate predictor of what kind of treatment you’ll receive from the DOJ.
We were reminded of that unfortunate reality earlier this week, when Holder’s Justice Department announced that it was prohibiting the implementation of a Texas law requiring voters to present photo identification, claiming that it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act (the DOJ had taken similar action against South Carolina in December).
Both cases are based on tortured rationales that requiring photo identification — which both states will provide to voters for free — discriminates against minority voters. And both states are suing in response. Yet, regardless of the outcomes of those cases, we can be sure that we haven’t seen the last of Holder’s racialist crusades. Since the very beginning of the Obama administration, his fixation on racial issues has been as consistent as it is divisive.
The first sign of this pernicious trend came in the earliest days of Holder’s tenure, when his Justice Department refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 wearing paramilitary outfits and shouting racial slurs at white voters while one of them brandished a billy club. While video of the incident left the public aghast, the DOJ dropped nearly all of the charges and dramatically narrowed the others, claiming the press had overblown the entire affair.
Amidst allegations that senior Justice Department officials wanted the case killed because they didn’t believe that civil rights laws should apply to white voters, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights launched an investigation. During that time, one Justice Department official, J. Christian Adams, resigned his position after his superiors instructed him not to respond to a subpoena.
Attorney General Holder, for his part, was unmoved. When grilled on Capitol Hill about the Justice Department’s failure to follow through on the case, Holder snapped when Republican Congressman John Culbertson of Texas quoted Democratic activist Bartle Bull — who witnessed the event — as saying that it was “the most blatant form of voter discrimination I have encountered in my life.”
“Think about that,” replied the petulant attorney general. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the ’60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia — which was inappropriate, certainly that … to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people.”