In the Obama administration, try to apply the civil rights laws equally and you're gone. That was the experience of the justice department attorney who pressed charges against a group of Black Panthers that were intimidating voters in a Pennsylvania polling place. (Story is here.)
Christopher Coates, the department's veteran voting rights section chief, has been "detailed" (duties unknown) for 18 months to the U.S. Attorney's office in South Carolina. The department is trying to pass off the transfer as having nothing to do with his enforcement of the voting rights act against the Black Panthers; the effort is utterly unconvincing.
The incident was captured on video (below) and widely circulated on YouTube, raising a national furor. Despite the clear evidence before everyone's eyes, political appointees in Obama's justice department dismissed the charges. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sought to investigate the dismissal, but has been rebuffed by Obama's justice department.
This is serious stuff. The message is clear to career administrators: Try to enforce the law in a fair and impartial way, and you're gone. Political interference of the enforcement of our laws--as Democrats correctly reminded us during the Bush administration--is unacceptable. Congress, in its oversight function, should get to the bottom of this miscarriage of justice. But because all the committees are control by Democrats, it won't.
Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.
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