Friday, July 31, 2009

Black Panther Justice

The dismissal of a civil suit brought against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has created some controversy over the anti-Republican bias within the United States Department of Justice. Political appointees within the DOJ agreed not to pursue a default judgment obtained by DOJ staffers.

While the behavior is not unexpected, it’s always irritating to see justice selectively applied by an organization dedicated to “equal justice under the law.” Maybe the political stakes were just too high for a case of voter intimidation.

But what about the electioneering issue? Electioneering is broadly defined as working actively for a candidate or a political party. Where I live in Colorado, electioneering is prohibited within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day. You can’t even conduct an exit interview of a voter unless you are outside the 100-foot limit. Other jurisdictions around the country have similar rules.

Although wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon may not constitute voter intimidation in Pennsylvania, might it be electioneering? Was there a particular candidate or party being promoted? News stories indicate there might have been.

There certainly was a strong message being delivered: “If you are voting for a Republican, you are not welcome.”

I’m hoping this is an unusual message to deliver to voters on Election Day. Apparently, in the birthplace of our nation, it is not.

UPDATE 10/15/2010:
Evidently electioneering offenses are not enforced.

UPDATE 3/14/2013:
J. Christian Adams reviews a report by the inspector general of the Department of Justice that describes the political bias of Tom Perez (since nominated by President Obama for Secretary of Labor).  The DOJ has apparently become a political arm of the Democratic Party over the last four years.

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