A lawsuit has been filed against President Obama’s Justice Department for refusing to release details about how agency officials decided to abandon a voter intimidation case that staff members had brought – and won – against members of the New Black Panther Party.
The lawsuit was filed by Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, over a refusal by the federal agency to provide information about the decision.
At issue in the case is whether the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People “improperly influenced” the Justice Department, the nation’s highest law enforcement agency, “to drop a lawsuit against members of the Black Panthers who allegedly threatened and intimidated white voters outside a polling station during the 2008 election.”
Because Kristen Clark, of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, reportedly met with Justice Department officials to discuss the case just before the agency announced plans to dismiss the action, questions arose about the influence that may have been exerted.
Judicial Watch in November 2010 filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records of communications between the agency’s Civil Rights Division and the NAACP. Under federal requirements, Attorney General Eric Holder’s agency was supposed to have responded by Dec. 3, 2010.
“However, to date, no documents have been produced,” the Judicial Watch announcement said.
“Who is running the Justice Department? That is what we’re trying to find out with this lawsuit. I find it outrageous that leftist special interest groups seem to be directing the activities of the nation’s top law enforcement agency,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a prepared statement about the case.
“The Obama Justice Department has made a mess of the Black Panther lawsuit. We already know the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case was tainted by politics and racism. There is something amiss in the Holder Justice Department. And its casual violations of the freedom of information law highlight this administration’s contempt for transparency and the rule of law.”
According to the lawsuit, “As of the date of this complaint, defendant has failed to produce any records responsive to the request or demonstrate that responsive records are exempt from production. Nor has it indicated whether or when any responsive records will be produced. In fact, defendant has failed to respond to the request in any manner.”
WND previously reported on the Philadelphia case, which was documented on video.
The Justice Department originally brought the case against the organization and several individuals who witnesses say derided voters with catcalls of “white devil” and “cracker” and told voters they should prepare to be “ruled by the black man.”
One poll watcher called police after he reportedly saw one of the men brandishing a nightstick to threaten voters.
“As I walked up, they closed ranks, next to each other,” the witness told Fox News at the time. “So I walked directly in between them, went inside and found the poll watchers. They said they’d been here for about an hour. And they told us not to come outside because a black man is going to win this election no matter what.”
He said the man with a nightstick told him, “‘We’re tired of white supremacy,’ and he starts tapping the nightstick in his hand. At which point I said, ‘OK, we’re not going to get in a fistfight right here,’ and I called the police.”
Subsequently, former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the Voting Section of Holder’s organization is dominated by a “culture of hostility” toward bringing cases against blacks and other minorities who violate voting-rights laws.
Further, two other former U.S. Department of Justice attorneys later corroborated key elements of the explosive allegations by Adams.
One of Adams’ DOJ colleagues, former Voting Section trial attorney Hans A. von Spakovsky, told WND he saw Adams was being attacked in the media for lack of corroboration. He said he knew Adams was telling the truth, so he decided on his own to step forward.
It was Adams who had been ordered by his superiors to drop a case prosecutors already had won against the New Black Panthers. When they were ordered to stop prosecution, Adams and the team of DOJ lawyers had already won the case by default because the New Black Panthers declined to defend themselves in court. At that point in the proceedings, the DOJ team was simply waiting for the judge to assign penalties against the New Black Panthers.
The latest FOIA action is part of Judicial Watch’s comprehensive investigation of the New Black Panther Party scandal. It previously found information that top political appointees played key roles in the decision to dismiss the case.
That information “directly contradict[s] sworn testimony by Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, who testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that no political leadership was involved in the decision,” Judicial Watch said.