Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has declined to hold another hearing on the New Black Panthers case, which had been requested by the committee’s Republicans.
From Leahy’s letter, via Greg Sargent:
The current partisan focus on this issue seems to be a product of the election year calendar more than credible evidence of wrongdoing. The insinuation that there may be “widespread politicization and possible corruption” seems to echo the ongoing drumbeat on partisan advocacy cable and radio shows. Questions about this incident have been asked and answered numerous times. Reviews are ongoing.
Judiciary Republicans, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, had asked for a hearing into whether the Department of Justice was acting politically when it closed a voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party.
The case began on Election Day 2008, when two members of the party stood outside a polling place in a majority-black area of Philadelphia while one of them held a nightstick. He has since been ordered to stay away from polling places until 2012; charges against the other person there that day, and the party as the whole, were dropped.
What conservatives — including the Civil Rights Commission, Fox News and former DOJ lawyer J. Christian Adams — allege is that the DOJ dropped the case as part of a blanket policy to not prosecute black defendants.
More from Leahy’s letter to ranking member Jeff Sessions:
What makes allegations of politicization especially hard to credit is that the Department’s decision to seek civil penalties rather than criminal sanctions in this case pre-dates the Obama administration. As made clear by the January 7, 2009, civil complaint filed by Attorney General Mukasey and others at the Department, that decision was made during the Bush administration.
The committee also held a hearing on this subject in April.