HOLDER CALLS AMERICA “A NATION OF COWARDS” ON RACIAL MATTERS
In a February 18, 2009 speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder alleged that Americans on the whole were afraid to confront racial issues in an honest or meaningful way. Among his remarks were the following:
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards…. [W]e, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and, given our nation’s history, this is in some ways understandable…. [T]his nation has still not come to grips with its racial past … [A] black history month is a testament to the problem that has afflicted blacks throughout our stay in this country. Black history is given a separate, and clearly not equal, treatment by our society in general and by our educational institutions in particular.”
In a January 2014 interview with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, Holder was asked how he now felt about his 2009 remarks. “I would not take that back,” he replied. The Attorney General then added that while “w[e] certainly do a lot better than we did” in terms of racial matters, his agenda remained sharply focused on equalizing outcomes for selected racial groups in the United States. “There are disproportionately negative impacts that we see on people of color, on women,” he said.
HOLDER AND STATE IMMIGRATION LAWS
On April 23, 2010, Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, signed into law a bill deputizing state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of any individuals whom they had stopped for some legitimate reason, if the behavior of those individuals—or the circumstances of the stop—led the officers to suspect that they might be in the United States illegally. In the ensuing days and weeks, Holder spoke out forcefully against the bill and indicated that the federal government might challenge it. During the weekend of May 8-9, he participated in a number of television interviews in which he warned that the law could lead to racial profiling and might cause Latinos to stop cooperating with police. But in a May 13 House hearing, Holder admitted that he had not read the statute: “I have not had a chance to. I’ve glanced at it. I have not read it.”
Eventually, Holder’s Justice Department filed suit against Arizona in an effort to prevent the immigration law from taking effect. The suit resulted in court rulings that blocked key portions of the law. By November 2011, the Justice Department would file similar suits against three additional states (Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah) that likewise had passed laws designed to stem the flow of illegal immigration.
THE NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY SCANDAL
On Election Day, 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party—Jerry Jackson and King Samir Shabazz—intimidated white voters with racial slurs and threats of violence at a Philadelphia polling place. Bartle Bull, a former civil rights attorney and campaign aide to the late Robert F. Kennedy, witnessed the Panthers’ actions and characterized them as “the most blatant form of voter intimidation” he had ever seen. Because Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits intimidation, coercion and threats to voters or those aiding voters, the Bush Justice Department filed a civil-rights lawsuit not only against the aforementioned Jackson and Shabazz, but also against the New Black Panther Party and its national chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz.
In 2009, the Obama administration inherited that lawsuit from the outgoing Bush administration. When the defendants failed to answer the suit, a federal court in Philadelphia entered a default judgment against them. But the Holder Justice Department responded by suddenly dropping the charges against the Panthers and two of the defendants; the third defendant was merely barred from displaying a weapon near a Philadelphia polling place for the next three years.
In June 2010, J. Christian Adams, a five-year Department of Justice (DOJ) veteran, resigned to protest the “corrupt nature” of DOJ’s dismissal of the case against the Panthers. “I mean we were told, ‘Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,’” he told Fox News. In July 2010, Adams gave damning public testimony about how the DOJ believed that “civil rights law should not be enforced in a race-neutral manner, and should never be enforced against blacks or other national minorities.”
Christopher Coates—Voting Section Chief for the DOJ—testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and corroborated Adams’ assertion that the Department had routinely ignored civil rights cases involving white victims. For more than a year previously, Holder’s DOJ had denied the Commission’s requests to hear Coates’ testimony and had instructed Coates not to testify. But in September 2010, Coates finally went public with his story and asked for protection under whistleblower laws. For the full text of Coates’ testimony, click here.
In testimony he gave on March 1, 2011, Holder assured the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies that politics had played no role whatsoever in DOJ’s handling of the New Black Panther Party case: “The decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department,” said the Attorney General. But documents obtained in 2012 by Judicial Watch, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, revealed that top political appointees at DOJ were intimately involved in the decision to drop the voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party. DOJ had initially refused to turn over the documents, contending that they didn’t show “any political interference whatsoever.” But Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington, DC District Court disagreed. Allowing the release of the documents on July 23, 2012, he declared that they “reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case[.]”
RELEASING A MARXIST TERRORIST FROM PRISON
In July 2010, Holder’s Justice Department released the former Marxist terrorist Marilyn Buck from prison, where she was serving an 80-year sentence that began in the 1980s. Buck had helped the Black Liberation Army (BLA) member and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur escape from prison in 1979; helped the BLA acquire weapons and ammunition; participated in the deadly 1981 Brink’s armored-car robbery; and played a role in a number of bombings—directed against the U.S. Senate, three military installations in the Washington D.C. area, and four sites in New York City. Explaining the rationale for Buck’s release, Justice Department officials said that Buck had learned her lesson and had “expressed a dramatic change from her previous political philosophy.” After discovering in early summer 2010 that Buck had contracted uterine cancer and was not expected to live much longer, Holder’s officials released her even earlier than scheduled, on July 15, 2010. She died less than a month later.
URGING THE IRS TO HELP BUILD CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST CONSERVATIVE GROUPS
In an October 2010 meeting that was arranged at the direction of Jack Smith, chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, the DOJ asked IRS official Lois Lerner to help the Department build criminal cases against conservative nonprofit groups that were conducting political activity. This was part of the massive IRS political-targeting scandal that began to make headlines in May 2013.
In a January 2011 address to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Civil Rights, Holder cited a 2005 report based on EPA data which showed that African Americans were almost 80 percent more likely than whites to live near hazardous industrial pollution sites. He said:
“In 2011, the burden of environmental degradation still falls disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color…. This is unacceptable. And it is unconscionable. But through the aggressive enforcement of federal environmental laws in every community, I believe that we can—and I know that we must—change the status quo.”
HOLDER’S OPPOSITION TO REMOVING INELIGIBLE NAMES FROM VOTER ROLLS
In 2011, Holder’s Justice Department pushed to maximize Democratic voter turnout for the 2012 elections by filing “motor voter” suits across the country, complaining that state agencies were not circulating voter-registration forms in social service agencies. By contrast, the Justice Department made no effort to enforce another section of the law requiring states purge voter rolls of dead persons and ineligible felons.
In late May 2012, Holder’s DOJ ordered the state of Florida to halt its efforts to identify and purge its voter rolls of non-citizens. The DOJ’s lead civil-rights lawyer said that his Department had not yet determined whether Florida’s efforts “neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of discriminating on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.”
Florida did not back down. “We have an obligation to make sure the voter rolls are accurate and we are going to continue forward and do everything that we can legally do to make sure than ineligible voters cannot vote,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot. We are not going to give up our efforts to make sure the voter rolls are accurate.”
Earlier in 2012 Secretary Detzner had worked with Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles to identify more than 2,600 people who were registered to vote despite being non-citizens at the time they applied for a driver’s license. Further, Detzner said that earlier efforts by his agency had identified 182,000 voters who were non-citizens by comparing voter rolls and driver’s-license databases. Detzner also revealed that he and his staff had been refused access by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the federal database containing more up-to-date immigration and citizenship information. In other words, the DHS would not assist Florida in its effort to be as non-discriminatory as possible, even as Holder’s DOJ insisted that Florida was engaging in discrimination.
Also in Florida, some 53,000 dead registered voters had been discovered when the state compared voter rolls to federal Social Security files for the first time—as a result of the passage of an election law by the GOP-controlled legislature.
When Florida failed to comply with Holder’s demand that it stop purging the voter rolls of dead people and non-citizens, the DOJ on June 12, 2012 filed a lawsuit against Florida.
In a July 2010 column for PJ Media, former DOJ Voting Section attorney J. Christian Adams had written: “In November 2009, the entire Voting Section was invited to a meeting with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes…to discuss Motor Voter enforcement decisions. The room was packed with dozens of Voting Section employees when she made her announcement regarding the provisions related to voter list integrity: ‘We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.’”
HOLDER’S OPPOSITION TO VOTER-IDENTIFICATION LAWS
As U.S. Attorney General, Holder, who contends that nearly one in four black people lack photo identification, has consistently opposed efforts to pass voter-ID laws designed to combat voter fraud. According to Holder, such laws—which either took effect or became pending in 11 states between 2008 and 2012—have the effect of disenfranchising nonwhite minorities. “It is time to ask: What kind of nation and what kind of people do we want to be?” Holder said in a December 2011 speech condemning voter ID. “Are we willing to allow this era—our era—to be remembered as the age when our nation’s proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?”
In a May 2012 meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus and black church leaders, Holder said that during the preceding two years, the Justice Department had challenged “two dozen state laws and executive orders from more than a dozen states that could make it significantly harder for many eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.″ Added Holder:
“Despite our nation’s long history of extending voting rights to non-property owners and to women, to people of color, to Native Americans, and to younger Americans, today a growing number of our fellow citizens are worried about the same disparities, divisions and problems that nearly five decades ago so many fought to address. In my travels across this country I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens who for the first time in their lives now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals and some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang, again, in the balance.”
Further, Holder asserted that conservatives in a number of states were enacting photo-identification requirements at polling places as a pretext for blocking “access” to the voting booth for blacks and other nonwhite minorities. According to the Attorney General, voter fraud was much too rare to warrant such measures. Hoover Institution senior fellow Thomas Sowell offered this assessment of Holder’s position:
“Since millions of black Americans—like millions of white Americans—are confronted with demands for photo identification at airports, banks and innumerable other institutions, it is a little much to claim that requiring the same thing to vote is denying the right to vote…. Holder’s pooh-poohing of voter fraud dangers, and hyping the ‘threat’ of denying minorities ‘access’ to the voting booth, are completely consistent with his drive to (1) maximize the number of votes by black Democrats and (2) spread as much fear as possible among minorities that they are under siege, and that the Democrats are their only protection and salvation.”
As of June 2012, Holder’s DOJ had already rejected applications by Texas and South Carolina for pre-clearance of their voter ID laws. According to DOJ, those states had not proven that their respective bills would have no discriminatory effect on minority voters. Yet a 6-3 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2008 had already upheld the right of a state (in that case, Indiana) to require such identification for voting. Thus the DOJ suit implied that Holder and company believe each state must file individual suits to achieve the same right.
On August 22, 2013, Holder’s DOJ announced its intent to sue Texas over its voter ID law, contending that the state had adopted the law specifically for the purpose of denying or restricting the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
That same day, DOJ also announced that it would seek to intervene in a lawsuit over Texas’s redistricting laws. According to Newsmax.com, this “would enable the federal government to seek a declaration that Texas’s 2011 redistricting plans for the U.S. Congress and the Texas State House of Representatives were adopted in order to deny or restrict the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.”
“This represents the department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last,” said Holder.
“EVERY SINGLE ONE”: THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION OF HOLDER’S DOJ HIRES ONLY LEFTISTS
In August-September 2011, PJ Media published Every Single One, a 12-part series of exposes revealing that, without exception, every attorney hired by the Civil Rights Division of Holder’s DOJ — a Division headed by Thomas Perez — had a leftist or Democrat activist pedigree. When PJ Media initially asked to see the resumes of these hires, the Justice Department refused to provide them. Thus PJ was forced to sue Holder in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act, and thereby gained access to the data it sought. To view this 12-part series, click here.
• Nearly two years later, in March 2013, the American Spectator reported on “the unprecedentedly naked politicization of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division,” as evidenced by the fact that “every one” of the 113 people the Division had hired for supposedly non-political civil-service positions were “demonstrably liberal activists.”