Why Did Justice Drop New Black Panthers' Case?

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is waiting for an answer to his June 8 letter to Attorney General Holder. And he may wait a good while longer because the Justice Department doesn’t want to explain its decision to dismiss its civil case — the worst case of voter intimidation in many years — and not pursue a criminal indictment.

Wolf’s letter — a copy of which appears below (click on the image for a larger version) — asks why the Justice Department dismissed a default judgment and dropped the case against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which Wolf’s letter describes as “a militant supremacist organization and hate group and its two members who threatened voters as part of a national voter intimidation effort on Election Day last November.”

According to Wolf’s letter, in an incident in Philadelphia (which many of us saw on Fox News on Election Day) one NBPP member pointed a weapon at individuals, menacingly tapped it on his other hand and such, all within eight to fifteen feet of a polling station. “One of the witnesses, an experienced civil rights attorney who worked with Charles Evers in Mississippi, has publicly called this ‘the most blatant form of voter intimidation’ he has ever seen.”

The Justice Department had obtained a default judgment against the New Black Panthers, apparently because the defendants did not want to subject themselves or their organization to discovery. Under the civil discovery process, both parties can obtain the documents and other evidence in the other party’s possession before trial, and can investigate the assets in pursuit of a judgment later.

The Justice Department dismissed the case, according to new reports, over the strong objection of career lawyers working in the Civil Rights Division.

House Judiciary Committee Republicans are considering their own query to Justice but it has been delayed for weeks apparently because of disagreement among the staff. While Judiciary’s internal debate continues, there are other issues to be pursued.

Sources have informed HUMAN EVENTS that there was correspondence — e-mails, phone calls and the like — between Justice Department political employees and outside interest groups on whether and how the New Black Panthers case should be pursued or dismissed.

HUMAN EVENTS has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all documents comprising those communications. We have been informed that the Justice Department is delaying its response. We wait, as does Mr. Wolf.