After months of trying, conservative complaints about the New Black Panther Party voter-suppression case have finally begun to trickle into the mainstream press. Between the recession and the oil spill, chances are you may be a little behind on the subject, so I've put together a primer that includes reporting from me and others who have been following the fight over the Civil Rights Division since the end of the Bush administration. The story is complicated, and most of the mainstream media reporters are just parachuting in.
From yesterday, here's my post on the relationship between conservative activist J. Christian Adams and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and a reminder of the racially hostile atmosphere inside the Civil Rights Division during the Bush era.
Dave Weigel's piece on how the NBPP case became a cause in the conservative media. Weigel also got a memorable quote from former Civil Rights Commission member Mary Frances Berry, whom the head of the Voting Rights Section during the Bush years referred to as "black and bitter."
Charlie Savage on the decline in enforcement of civil- and voting-rights protections under Bush. Going way back, here's a very detailed old Savage piece on how hiring practices under Bush were politicized.
My profile of former Voting Rights Section Chief Christopher Coates, a longtime voting-rights attorney who was known to former Civil Rights Division head Bradley Schlozman as a "true member of the team." Coates was recently transferred out of the division, a move conservatives portrayed as an attempt to whitewash the NBPP case.
A former Voting Rights Section official on the exodus of civil-rights lawyers from the section under Bush: “The voting section couldn’t get cases, especially one alleging racial discrimination approved ... so the whole purpose of being there went away.”
Ultimately what Republicans are really looking for here is a way to play up this non-issue before the primaries in order to justify a fishing expedition should the GOP retake Congress. More than anything, Republicans are looking for payback for the perpetual scandal that was the Department of Justice under the Bush administration.