Opponents of effective voting rights enforcement have taken to right-wing media outlets to allege that the Department of Justice engaged in "collusive," "illegal," and "crooked" acts for its role in the determination of whether a California county and the state of New Hampshire qualify to opt-out of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). But these allegations of "trickery," most recently pushed by National Review Online contributor Hans von Spakovsky, ignore that DOJ is complying with the text of the VRA as interpreted by the courts.
Two former Bush administration DOJ officials have accused the department of acting improperly in the successful removal of Merced County, California, from the voter protection requirements of Section 5 and the ongoing consideration of such an opt-out for New Hampshire. Writing on the right-wing blog PJ Media, J. Christian Adams argued that in the Merced case DOJ had "ignore[d] the law" and "conned" a federal court as part of an "elaborate legal ruse" to preserve the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a claim that Section 5 is unconstitutional. Continuing this attack, von Spakovsky accused the DOJ in the National Review Online of similar "deception" and "manipulation" of the VRA in its considerations of the New Hampshire case, again in order to "manipulate the Supreme Court in the Shelby case." A conservative advocacy group immediately adopted their argument and filed a motion to intervene in the New Hampshire case, as was predicted by election law expert and law professor Rick Hasen:
I expect this argument to get a lot of play.
The great irony here, for those who don't follow this issue closely, is that you have people who oppose section 5 of the VRA complaining that DOJ is making it too easy for those jurisdictions subject to its preclearance provision to escape from the Act's coverage.
Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Southern jurisdictions who illegally denied citizens the right to vote during the Jim Crow era - and subsequent jurisdictions that engaged in similar conduct - are forbidden from changing covered election practices without federal approval. There is a legal opt-out to Section 5, by which jurisdictions can "bailout" of the "preclearance" requirements by proving they are no longer breaking the law. To encourage successful bailouts, Congress increasingly "liberalized" this process. Similarly, the Supreme Court in its last VRA case -NAMUDNO v. Holder - "rewrote" the bailout requirements to encourage even more use of the process.
Nevertheless, right-wing activists have successfully placed the Shelby case before the Supreme Court, which could release all covered jurisdictions if Section 5 is declared unconstitutional. Adams and von Spakovsky, who quote anonymous sources and internal DOJ documents to support their arguments, argue that DOJ has "designed" a "legal strategy" to avoid this outcome by aggressively following NAMUDNO.
Beyond the unremarkable fact that the DOJ - the defendant in Shelby - would prefer not to both lose the case and part of the most effective civil rights law in history, Adams and von Spakovsky misrepresent the bailout cases to claim neither Merced nor New Hampshire qualify. Adams complains that the extensive DOJ investigation of Merced's bailout request revealed that the county should have submitted certain past election changes for preclearance and because the county "settled" a Section 5 case, it was ineligible for bailout. But Merced's counsel responded to Adams' accusations, pointing out that "case law under Section 5...holds that the preclearance obligation can be retroactively satisfied":
Mr. Adams is simply incorrect about the Lopez litigation. There was no "settlement"; the County won that lawsuit outright, having summary judgment granted in its favor. See Lopez v. Merced County, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3941 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 16, 2008). Thus, the County was not disqualified from bailout by virtue of the provision relating to consent decrees entered within the last 10 years. 42 U.S.C. § 1973b(a)(1)(B).
[R]egarding the submission of a number of historical voting changes for preclearance in connection with the bailout, there are a number of points to be made:
Section 5 itself provides that oversights in preclearance compliance may be forgiven in a bailout action if they were "were trivial, were promptly corrected, and were not repeated." 42 U.S.C. § 1973b(a)(3). In other words, Mr. Adams's implication that Section 5 has a "no tolerance" standard--and that the Attorney General is therefore ignoring the command of Congress--is refuted by the text of Section 5 itself.
"[P]ost hoc" preclearances are typical in connection with bailout, seriously undermining the notion that such an approach is part of a vast conspiracy to save Section 5.
Adams subsequently admitted "retroactive" preclearance was possible.
Von Spakovsky repeated Adams' claim that states seeking bailouts must not have "failed to submit for preclearance...voting changes they have made" over the past ten years, without acknowledging the retroactive preclearance that may occur for New Hampshire. Von Spakovsky used this misleading point as proof that New Hampshire is actually less qualified than Shelby County for a bailout, because New Hampshire allegedly has more unsubmitted preclearance requests than Shelby County did. But the footnote from the Shelby case on appeal that von Spakovsky partially quoted for the uncontroversial rule that unprecleared voting changes - absent retroactive approval - preclude bailout, explicitly notes that Shelby County's primary problem was DOJ's objection:
Although the Court did not permit discovery into the question of Shelby County's bailout-eligibility, it is clear -- based on undisputed facts in the record -- that Shelby County is not eligible for bailout. Under Section 4(a)(1)(E), a jurisdiction is only eligible for bailout if, during the ten years preceding its bailout request, "the Attorney General has not interposed any objection...with respect to any submission by or on behalf of the plaintiff or any governmental unit within its territory." 42 U.S.C. § 1973b(a)(1)(E). The Attorney General concedes that, in 2008, he interposed an objection [.]
Fox misused a report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office finding that the federal government may be able to safely transfer all the prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay to prisons on U.S. soil to manufacture a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration wants to release terrorists onto American streets.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) -- a non-partisan independent agency that works for Congress -- issued a report finding that six Department of Defense detention facilities and 98 Department of Justice prisons may, with modifications, be able to hold the detainees the Department of Defense is currently holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
During the December 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Dave Briggs and Juliet Huddy interviewed Republican Party activist and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams to react to the report. Fox has repeatedly given Adams a platform to push his vendetta against the Obama administration's Department of Justice, including the utterly discredited claim that the Justice Department has a policy of not pursuing certain cases against African Americans.
Adams wasted little of Fox's airtime before pushing an anti-Department of Justice conspiracy theory. After discussing how dangerous some of the detainees in Guantanamo are, Huddy asked what would happen if Guantanamo Bay detainees are brought to the U.S. prison system. Adams responded by falsely claiming that the administration had previously attempted to release terrorists into Northern Virginia and suggested that the administration's long-term goal was to release terrorists into the United States:
ADAMS: Well, look what happened with the Uighurs. The Uighurs were these Chinese terrorists. The administration tried to release them into Northern Virginia before Congressman Frank Wolfe [R-VA] found out about it and said you can't do this. I think the long-term plan here is to integrate them into the regular prison population where they can radicalize the other prisoners. And eventually, these people -- some in the administration -- want to just release them into the United States.
In fact, the Uighurs the administration sought to release were not terrorists seeking to harm the United States. The Uighurs at Guantanamo were Chinese Muslims. According to The Washington Post, the Bush administration determined that a number of them were people who had been wrongfully detained by bounty hunters. The Post reported that the rest "were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States."
Indeed, according to the Post, the Bush administration had cleared all of them for release by 2005, but they could not find a country willing to take them and could not send them back to China where they might have faced persecution. In October 2008, a federal judge had ruled that the U.S. government had to release the Uighurs still being held, which led to redoubled efforts to find a place to release them.
From the July 12 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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From the June 21 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From James O'Keefe's latest video on "Voter Fraud in America," we learn:
- If James O'Keefe says someone isn't a citizen, you should ask to see their passport.
- If James O'Keefe says someone is deceased, you should ask to see their death certificate.
- If you show up at someone's house with a video camera or call them on the phone, refuse to identify yourself, and demand answers about someone's citizenship, you're probably not going to get a response. (Ambush interview subject to O'Keefe associate: "You haven't told me who you are. You're an 'independent agency'? That's cool. Who are you with?" O'Keefe associate replies "Thank you, sir," and drives off.)
As usual, O'Keefe's videos tell us much more about his deceptive methods and sloppy "journalism" than they do about the subject matter. And as the videos continue to crash and burn, they also tell us quite a bit about his allies in the voter ID movement, who are eager to use his efforts to push for laws that make it harder to vote.
O'Keefe's little lies all serve his big lie: That there is a widespread epidemic of voter fraud in this country that necessitates voter ID laws. Both data and common sense show that this simply isn't the case. But those who seek passage of such laws are apparently willing to use any means necessary, even if it means highlighting the work of an activist who long ran out of credibility.
Indeed, since he began releasing dishonest voter fraud videos in January, O'Keefe has become the toast of the voter ID movement. He has been praised by New Black Panthers Party fabulist J. Christian Adams for having "exposed the truth about voter fraud" and lauded by longtime vote fraudster John Fund ("In Washington, it was child's play for O'Keefe to beat the system"), spoke at the national summit for the Tea Party-backed True the Vote, and appeared with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to discuss the need for voter ID.
On at least two occasions, right-wing members of Congress, specifically Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Steve King (R-IA),have raised O'Keefe's videos during congressional hearings, with King on one occasion questioning FBI director Robert Mueller about the tapes.
When you mischaracterize the status of all three of the voters you are supposedly reporting on, your reporting has no credibility. And with the rest of the voter fraud movement depending on O'Keefe to promote their issue, it's quickly becoming apparent that their own credibility is lacking as well.
Right-wing media have attacked President Obama for his recent comments about shooting victim Trayvon Martin and his family, accusing Obama of "inject[ing]" himself into the debate using "racial code" and claiming that his statement is evidence that "he's got it in for this country."
Pamela Geller reports on her Atlas Shrugs blog that right-wing lawyer and Obama Justice Department critic J. Christian Adams will be participating in a CPAC 2012 panel presented by her Stop Islamization of America organization. Geller writes of the panel, titled "Islamic Law in America, How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out":
The Obama Justice Department is not just tolerating, but actively aiding the assertion of Islamic law in the U.S., and the primacy of Sharia over U.S. law. This explosive conference will give the details of that effort and show Americans what we must do now to preserve our Constitutional freedoms.
In 2010, Adams set off a right-wing media firestorm after he left the DOJ, offering since-discredited claims that the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case demonstrated racially charged corruption. He has since used his position as a blogger for the right-wing site Pajamas Media, often issuing false attacks on the Obama DOJ for its supposed politicization and "racial agenda," and he recently authored a book on the subject filled with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and baseless allegations.
Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy "American" values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari'a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the "falsity of Islam."
Right-wing media outlets are falsely claiming that Attorney General Eric Holder stated an "unwillingness to enforce laws to prevent voter fraud" during a December 13 speech on voting rights. In fact, Holder said in his speech that voter fraud "will not be tolerated by this Justice Department," but new state restrictions on voting will receive a "thorough -- and fair" review by the department.
I suppose the principle "it takes one to know one" applies here.
In a PJ Media blog post, J. Christian Adams repeatedly accuses Houston Chronicle blogger Geoff Berg of "race baiting." Berg's offense was to state that the "actual mission" of True the Vote, the Texas "voter integrity" group accused of intimidating voters during the 2010 election, is to "make it as difficult as possible for blacks and Hispanics to vote." According to Berg, the group is conducting its efforts in minority neighborhoods; he also points out that they recently hosted Matthew Vadum, who has written that registering the poor to vote is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals."
Adams has often been quick to leap to True the Vote's defense and promote its efforts -- and with good reason. Adams has previously acknowledged that the Texas group is one of his clients. He provides no such disclosure in this piece, leaving it an open question as to whether he's failing to acknowledge a current relationship or failing to acknowledge a prior one.
Adams is, of course, the last person who should be accusing others of race-baiting. His current career is due to his baseless accusation that the Obama Justice Department is engaged in illegitimate race-based enforcement of the law. He became a conservative cause celebre for his public pushing of the New Black Panthers manufactured scandal, and has since offered numerous similarly fact-free claims about the DOJ's racial corruption.
In one of his most egregious race-baiting incidents, Adams compared diversity committees to "South Africa's apartheid regime." From an August 17 PJ Media piece, discussing DOJ attorney Tamica Daniel:
Tamica Daniel: Ms. Daniel comes to the Section only a year out of Georgetown's law school, where she was the diversity committee chair of the law review, volunteered with the ACLU's Innocence Project, and participated in the Institute for Public Representation Clinic. For those in the real world, diversity committees are groups set up to hector for race-based outcomes in hiring employees and student matters. It is an entity with close cousins in South Africa's apartheid regime and other dark eras in history.
Given his record, it seems unlikely that Adams will either stop accusing others of race-baiting or stop race-baiting.
J. Christian Adams must feel like his star is fading. The former DOJ attorney hired under President Bush's politicized regime was once a favorite fear-monger of the right. Sixteen months ago, Adams was bursting onto the national scene with appearances on Fox News to hype the phony New Black Panther Party controversy, and now he's muttering George Soros conspiracies in the obscure back pages of PJMedia.com. In what must be a desperate last gasp for attention, Adams is now resorting to the worst of the forbidden rhetorical devices: Nazi comparisons.
For Adams, a speaker's use of the phrase "God is on our side" at a civil rights rally in Florida apparently evokes Nazi imagery. From his November 10 post at PJ Media, describing a small rally of African American community members protesting the arrest of some elected community officials on suspicions of election fraud:
The rally begins by singing revered hymns such as "We Shall Overcome." The speakers claim the accused were arrested because of "racism." Like the German Army belt buckle, the speaker says the accused will be victorious "because God is on our side." The bloody shirt is waved - "they thought they forever would be in charge." The criminal accusations are "nothing but mud thrown on the wall," followed by a disturbing call and response evidencing genuine lawlessness beyond just the speakers.
The "German Army belt buckle" Adams links to bears the Nazi iron eagle with swastika and the German phrase, "Gott mit uns" - God with us.
So to clarify for the record, J. Christian Adams sees a small gathering of African American civil rights activists citing their commonly-held belief that God is present and supportive in their lives during a protest, and Adams immediately thinks they resemble Nazis. It's tempting to delve into a Freudian analysis of Adams' psychological associations, but instead it's probably sufficient to note that his flawed simile doesn't even begin to scratch at the realm of rational thought.
Yes, it's true that the Nazis engraved "God with us" on their belt buckles; but the sentiment that "God is on our side" is no more symbolic of Nazism than eating sauerkraut or driving a Volkswagen. The belief that a particular culture, activity or way of life is favored by divine interests is prevalent everywhere from the pre-game prayers by local high school football teams to the governing philosophies of American presidents like George W. Bush. The notion that it's some unique and recognizable Nazi chant being invoked by black community members on the steps of their local church is absurd.
What's more appalling is the failed judgment by Adams' editors at PJ Media. Either they didn't read the post before applying their stamp of approval, or they agree with the assertion that these civil rights activists are comparable in any respect to Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
J. Christian Adams is truly struggling for attention and relevance now that his book is receiving little fanfare and his voice is drowned out within the ranks of the other faceless ideologues at PJ Media. Otherwise, why go through with such a despicable race-baiting Nazi comparison in just his second column?
J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department Civil Rights Division attorney and New Black Panthers fabulist who has accused the Obama DOJ of setting policies based on race, has finally received his conservative wings. After months of sporadic contributions and a recent tediously-stubborn non-story about DOJ hiring practices, Pajamas Media (now PJMedia) has officially made Adams a regular columnist in the conservative blogosphere.
Adams completed his transformation from wannabe whistleblower to right-wing pontificator by using his first official PJM column to cry "Soros," utilizing the well-worn right-wing shtick of connecting every liberal group or activity they despise back to the alleged manipulations of billionaire philanthropist/super-villain George Soros, as if Soros' involvement was, ipso facto, evidence of the groups' sinister intentions.
In addition to invoking Soros, Adams used his first column to attack a number of voting rights groups, inflate the threat of voter fraud, and promote his new book. Adams writes:
Last month, a collection of groups funded by George Soros held a conference on election law and the upcoming 2012 election. PJ Media has obtained details of the event from an attendee. Our eyes and ears are extensive. [...]
These types of groups exist primarily to attack any effort to combat voter fraud or ensure the integrity of elections. As I write in my book Injustice, there is "an enormous and well-funded industry of voter fraud deniers that provides an intellectual smokescreen for this lawlessness."
Deven Andersen [conference speaker], obviously a top-shelf racialist, casts all Tea Partiers and election integrity proponents as racists: "The Tea Party is a reincarnation of the White Southern Democrats. They want to turn the clock back to 1866 and make blacks second rate citizens again," he told the crowd. "Conservatives don't like people of color. They are stuck in 1866." Specifically, the nut Andersen named the King Street Patriots, a voter integrity effort in Houston, Texas. [...]
While this meeting of nuts might sound fanciful to most Americans, it is indicative of the lengths the voter fraud deniers go to stoke up their base, and scare law enforcement officials from enforcing laws to ensure electoral integrity next year. But now, people are paying attention to their efforts to incite lawlessness.
While "efforts to incite lawlessness" seems a little over-the-top as far as rhetoric goes, what's more important are the factual inaccuracies of Adams' contentions. Adams describes the conference attendees' concerns about new voting laws as nutty, but the serious truth is that a wave of new state voting laws amending identification, proof of citizenship, and registration requirements could disenfranchise millions of legal voters, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice.
And while Adams bandies about the term "voter fraud deniers," the fact of the matter is that voter fraud is one of isolated anecdote, not widespread conspiracy-laden epidemic. A mere 17 people between 2002 and 2005 were convicted by the Justice Department of casting fraudulent ballots, according to a report by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department. And the Brennan Center study notes that allegations of voter fraud "simply do not pan out." Even Adams compatriot Hans von Spakovsky has acknowledged that there is no "massive fraud in American elections."
Adams will be PJ Media's go-to voice on election law going into the 2012 presidential election year. If these kind of fear-mongering inaccuracies are going to be the bread and butter of Adams' work, then - as with the rest of the posts at PJ Media - let the reader beware.
From the October 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News' Fox & Friends hosted the network's favorite disgruntled storyteller, J. Christian Adams, to complain about his former employer, the U.S. Department of Justice, and hawk his new book, "Injustice," which is out today. While on the curvy couch, interviewer Gretchen Carlson gave Adams the green light to talk at length about phony allegations that President Obama's DOJ dismissed their case against the New Black Panthers and enforces the law with an anti-white agenda.
It's no surprise that Adams' book tour would find a home on Fox News. After Adams pushed his claims in a two-part interview on Fox News' America Live last summer, Fox devoted hours of coverage to hyping the myths about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.
Unsurprisingly, Adams' interview this morning did not delve into the results of the DOJ's extensive investigation into these allegations. In a March letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Robin Ashton of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility wrote that their investigation found that "department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct," and that there was "no evidence" that their decisions were improperly affected by political considerations or by the race of the defendants.
During their interview, Adams repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the DOJ dismissed the case against the New Black Panthers.
CARLSON: So let's go back to the Black Panther situation. You decide to come out and tell your side of the story, which was what?
ADAMS: Well, that they dismissed the case because there's a hostility to enforcing the law in a race neutral fashion. In the Black Panther case, the victims were white. The defendants were black and those were the sorts of things many people in the department don't want to enforce.
Adams failed to mention that it was the Bush DOJ who decided not to pursue criminal charges against the New Black Panther Party and that the Obama DOJ obtained a judgment against one of the defendants in the case.
In his forthcoming book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department, former Department Of Justice attorney and Republican activist J. Christian Adams desperately tries to maintain his credibility by doubling down on accusations of racially charged corruption in the Civil Rights Division. The book is filled with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and baseless allegations.
Andrew Breitbart wants you to know that he doesn't think President Obama is "a secret member of the New Black Panther Party." But he's more than willing to hide the truth in order to conjure up the ridiculous smear that sometimes, they hang out.
Under the headline "Shock Photos: Candidate Obama Appeared And Marched With New Black Panther Party in 2007," Breitbart reports that at a March 2007 march in Selma, "then-Senator Obama was joined by a group of Panthers who had come to support his candidacy."
Breitbart is providing some publicity for charges that New Black Panther Party fabulist J. Christian Adams leveled at the president in his new book Injustice: Exposing The Racial Agenda Of The Obama Justice Department, which comes out tomorrow. Breitbart provided a blurb for the back of the book, and in the acknowledgements Adams thanks Breitbart, whom he describes as his "soul brother and pied piper."
In claiming that Obama was "joined by" the Panthers, "appeared and marched with" them, and "shar[ed] the same podium" with them, Breitbart carefully avoids explaining just what the event in question was. References to Obama campaigning "in Selma, Alabama in March 2007" and a mention of how "then-Senator Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton were also in Selma at the same event" do more to confuse the readers than explain it to them.
What Breitbart is trying to avoid acknowledging is that several thousand people "appeared and marched" with the New Black Panthers that day. The event in question was the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma, which ended when the civil rights marchers were attacked by law enforcement at Edmund Pettus Bridge. The Birmingham News reported:
Former President Bill Clinton and presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama locked arms with civil rights icons Sunday and marched through thousands of wellwishers, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge to cap the 42nd anniversary Right to Vote and Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
It wasn't Obama's event. It wasn't the Panthers' event. They were all in Selma for an annual celebration of an historic civil rights moment. During that event, Obama and New Black Panthers leader Malik Zulu Shabazz gave speeches from the same podium, and both were part of the crowd that then marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Breitbart says that the Panthers "explicitly came to Selma to support Obama," and basically establishes that they followed Obama around that day. For Breitbart, this constitutes "an association between a vile racist organization and a future President of the United States."