Megyn Kelly predictably jumped all over reports that Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates would testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights tomorrow about the department's handling of a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. Kelly called this development a "bombshell" that could show that the DOJ is not enforcing voting rights laws equally based on race -- but she made no mention of the DOJ's actual work enforcing voting laws against black defendants.
Kelly hearkened back to her interviews earlier this summer with right-wing activist J. Christian Adams, who has claimed that there is a "hostility in the voting rights section" of the Justice Department "to bringing cases on behalf of white victims for the benefit of national racial minorities." Fox News -- Megyn Kelly in particular -- relentlessly fanned these flames throughout the summer. Coates' decision to testify was no exception:
That testimony could potentially be damaging to DOJ officials who have testified before that same commission under oath that the Department of Justice does not have a policy of enforcing voting right laws unequally, depending on the race of the parties involved.
That's a rather extraordinary allegation that Coates might attempt to corroborate tomorrow. But it's an allegation that is in no way sustainable given the actual actions of the Justice Department -- actions that Megyn Kelly routinely ignores.
In July, I noted that the Justice Department asked a federal court to extend an injunction against black leaders in Mississippi for discriminating against white voters:
In 2007, a federal court found that Ike Brown, the black chairman of the Noxubee (Mississippi) County Democratic Executive Committee, had engaged in systematic discrimination against white voters and appointed Judge Reuben Anderson to oversee Democratic primaries and runoffs though 2011. The Associated Press called the case "the first of its kind in the country, accusing black political leaders of discriminating against white voters." Earlier this week, the Obama Justice Department filed a motion to prevent Brown from establishing a closed Democratic Primary that the DOJ argued would discriminate against white voters. The Justice Department asked the court to extend its 2007 injunction for two years and to ensure that Brown could not seek to implement voting changes during that time.
The Justice Department itself has cited its action in Mississippi as critical to the allegation that right-wing activists are advancing so ardently. In an August 11 letter, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez pointed to the department's "ongoing work in Mississippi" in response to questions of whether the department had a race-based policy of enforcing voting rights laws:
Our commitment to evenhanded enforcement of our civil rights laws extends to every part of the Division, and our work in the voting area is no exception. This commitment is evidenced by our ongoing work in Mississippi. There, the Division recently filed a Motion to prevent actions by defendants Ike Brown and the Noxubee County (Mississippi) Democratic Executive Committee on the grounds that the actions were motivated in part by racial animus against white voters.
During an earlier hearing before the Civil Rights Commission -- the center of the right wing's scandal-mongering -- Democratic Commissioner Michael Yaki also noted the disconnect between allegations that the DOJ is hostile to enforcing voting rights laws against black defendants and the DOJ's actual record of enforcing voting rights laws against black defendants:
You're trying to look for evidence of further evidence of a policy by the Department to not enforce the laws in a race-neutral manner when, in fact, what this letter states is that very clearly in the Noxubee case, which was a case where a county Democratic chair, who is African American, was doing all of these pretty awful things to suppress the white vote, the Department of Justice got involved, and there was a filing made this year.
The DOJ's actual enforcement of voting rights laws to protect white voters from wrongdoing by black leaders -- coupled with the fact that the Justice Department under Obama successfully obtained an injunction against New Black Panther King Samir Shabazz for carrying a weapon outside a polling station -- directly speaks to whether the administration will or will not pursue voting rights cases against black defendants.
At the height of the conservative media's feeding frenzy surrounding the phony scandal, Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said that her organization's investigation into the decision was an attempt by conservatives to "topple" the Obama administration.
Looks like Fox News has found yet another way to serve as "voice of the opposition."