-1Presentation at CPAC – February 12, 2011 Lawlessness, Racialism and Terror at Obama’s Department of Justice Hans A.

von Spakovsky© Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation Former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights High above the classical Corinthian columns of the United States Supreme Court, engraved in the elegant marble is the following inscription: “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.” To be sure, that concept is not a uniquely American one, but it is one that we know is crucial to our great Republic. It is the reason that whenever you see a statue of Lady Justice, she is blindfolded. Everyone, regardless of their skin color, social status, or otherwise, deserves to be treated fairly and equally. It is said that we are a country of laws, not men. I believe in that principle, as does each of my distinguished fellow panelists---as I am sure all of you do, too. As conservatives, we believe in the rule of law, and the blind application of it---regardless of outcome. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the leadership in the current Justice Department. I had the privilege of working for four years at the Justice Department as a career lawyer. In fact, all three of the people on this panel are former career lawyers at the Department – none of us was a political appointee. So we bring that perspective to you today – which is that of former civil servants who are appalled at the politicalization that has occurred in that Department. This gross politicalization is real, and there is actual evidence of it, unlike all the false accusations that were made during the Bush administration – like the claim that somehow President Bush had done something wrong when he terminated several U.S. Attorneys---political appointees who served at the pleasure of the president. All of you may realize the truth of the main point I want to make, but it takes working at the Department to understand completely just how powerful the Justice Department is. When the individuals who work there abuse that power by not enforcing the law as written, using that power for political and ideological reasons, it poses a grave danger to our liberty and to the rule of law. It is our adherence to the rule of law under our Constitution and the Bill of Rights that makes us a unique place in the world. The evidence from the two years that the Obama Justice Department has been operating under Eric Holder is overwhelming---politics is driving law enforcement decisions – not national security, not the best interests of the country and not the goal of administering justice blindly, fairly and impartially.


I know a lot of lawyers who still work at the Department and they all tell me the politically-driven lawlessness that pervades the Department is the worst they have ever seen, even worse than it was during the Clinton administration. As John Adams said, “facts are stubborn things,” so let me lay out some facts for you. The Civil Rights Division, which is one of the largest divisions at Justice, is responsible for enforcing our civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Here is a quote from a court decision in a redistricting case, Miller v. Johnson, which was filed against the state of Georgia by that Division during the Clinton administration. Not only did Justice lose the case, but the federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court excoriated the Division’s handling of the case. The district court was appalled by the actions of the Division lawyers, calling it “disturbing” and “an embarrassment,” and pointing out the Justice attorneys seemed to be taking their orders directly from the ACLU. The court expressed its surprise and profound disappointment that “the Department of Justice was so blind to this impropriety, especially in a role as sensitive as that of preserving the fundamental right to vote.” The United States, that is you the taxpayers, ended up paying almost $600,000 in attorneys’ fees to the defendants because of the Division’s misbehavior. In fact, during the Clinton administration, the Civil Rights Division had 11 frivolous lawsuits thrown out by courts and ended up paying out over $4.1 million in attorneys’ fees and costs. Even though that was years ago, it is still relevant today. Why? Because as soon as the Obama administration came in, it appointed one of the lawyers who lost the Miller case, Loretta King, to be the acting head of the Civil Rights Division. She didn’t get fired for filing a frivolous lawsuit and costing the taxpayers $600,000 – she got promoted! You’re paying her salary. And as Christian Adams can tell you, she was one of the key people who ordered the New Black Panther party case dismissed. By the way, there were no sanctions awarded against the Division during the eight years of the Bush administration. On the other hand, the Civil Rights Division was slapped with sanctions in January of last year in a housing discrimination lawsuit it filed in Kansas under the supervision of Ms. King – so the misdeeds of the Clinton administration are already being repeated and multiplied by the Obama administration. That’s not all. When President Obama appointed the new head of the Civil Rights Division, he picked an activist lawyer, Thomas Perez, who had served in the Division during the Clinton administration when those frivolous lawsuits were filed that cost the taxpayers over $4.1 million.

-3Perez was at one time president of Casa de Maryland, an extreme advocacy organization that opposes enforcement of our immigration laws. So someone who was head of an organization that helps illegal aliens evade federal law was made the head of a major Justice Department division by the President. Obama also appointed another Clinton-era lawyer, Julie Fernandes, as a deputy in Civil Rights to oversee the Voting Section, which enforces the federal laws that supposedly guarantee fair and impartial elections. Of course, Fernandez immediately told the lawyers in the Division that the Voting Rights Act was only meant to protect black voters---a gross and insulting interpretation of the colorblind act---and that there would be no more cases filed against black defendants, like the New Black Panthers, no matter what they did. So she gave a get-out-of-jail-free card to those of a certain racial or ethnic background who violate our laws and intimidate voters. Holder’s DOJ also dismissed another lawsuit that had been filed by the Bush administration against the Secretary of State of Missouri, Robin Carnahan. The lawsuit was filed under a provision of the National Voter Registration Act that requires---requires--- states to clean up their voter registration rolls by removing the names of ineligible voters – like dead people. And you thought only dead people in Chicago voted! Carnahan had refused to comply with the law and so many counties in Missouri had more registered voters than the Census showed they had population! One month after Carnahan announced she was going to run for the U.S. Senate as the Democratic candidate, a race she fortunately lost, the Obama administration suddenly dismissed this NVRA lawsuit against her without explanation. And then Ms. Fernandes told lawyers in the Division that there would be no cases filed to enforce this provision of federal law. In other words, the Obama administration had no interest whatsoever in making sure that voter registration lists are accurate and not filled with bogus and ineligible voters. I guess that should be no surprise given that the President’s first employer was ACORN, an organization that I assume no one here has ever “worked” for. And so they have ignored a recommendation that was made to file similar lawsuits against at least 8 other states not complying with the law. This administration has shown that it only enforces laws that benefit its core constituents---ironically turning a blind eye to all Americans who have proper grievances. Holder’s DOJ does not believe in the race-neutral enforcement of our civil rights laws. And it believes in stretching those laws far beyond their limits to push its particular ideological agenda.

-4That is why it has launched absolutely ludicrous investigations of school districts that have dress codes that prohibit boys from dressing like girls and wearing makeup, stiletto heals, and nail polish making the false claim that this is somehow discrimination based on “perceived sexual identity” and violates federal law. You probably think I am kidding, but I am not. Or why they have launched a lawsuit against a school district in Illinois for supposed religious discrimination because the district refused to allow a teacher to take off three weeks in the middle of the school year to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca – that is not a violation of federal law and is not religious discrimination. Yet that is what the Justice Department spends its time on because it is determined to use its power to impose its peculiar cultural and social views on the rest of us. I can almost guarantee you that there will be nothing done about any of this internally at Justice. Holder has just appointed a Democratic Party loyalist to head the Office of Professional Responsibility at Justice, which is the office that supposedly investigates ethics violations by Justice lawyers, and he appointed his own former chief of staff to head up a new office that is supposed to review OPR’s findings. The administration is stacking all of the career positions inside the Justice Department with radical leftists and Democratic Party activists, which will make sure that even when Obama’s political appointees leave at the end of this administration, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, they will have put in place a core group of liberals who will battle any new administration that comes into office. So not only is this administration doing enormous damage to the rule of law and the professionalism of the current Justice Department, it is doing its best to make sure that the radical policies it is implementing will be continued for a long time to come. The laws enforced by the Justice Department were intended to protect all Americans, regardless of color. I never assumed, as the Obama administration does, that I could ignore my duty to enforce the law in an impartial, neutral manner, or to ignore violations of the law by the members of certain racial groups or a particular political party. No one who believes in the rule of law--- who believes in EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW--could possibly accept such a view – and that tells us starkly that this administration has the utmost contempt for the rule of law. I look forward to the day when we, together, can be proud of our Department of Justice, confident that it is living up to its obligation of EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.


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