Could it be that President Obama's legal team is imploding due to a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party? So many new developments regarding the Black Panther case occurred in the latter half of last week that it is hard keeping up with them all. But none of them look good for the Obama administration or for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s Justice Department.
The case involves paramilitary-garbed Panthers caught on videotape (which was backed by copious testimony) engaged in what observers say were intimidating and racially charged activities outside a Philadelphia polling booth on presidential Election Day in 2008. Even though a judge was ready to enter a default judgment against the Black Panthers, based on a case brought by career attorneys at the Justice Department, the Obama administration suddenly decided last spring to drop three of the four cases and punish the final one with an incredibly weak injunction.
Controversy, accompanied by continued administration stonewalling, has ensued ever since.
The new developments last week were as follows:
First, a Web site called "Main Justice" reported on Wednesday (and we have since confirmed) that the Justice Department has, for now, ordered two key career attorneys not to comply with a subpoena about the case issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The commission, by law, has explicit power to issue subpoenas, and the law mandates that "all federal agencies shall cooperate fully with the commission." The Justice Department, however, is citing internal regulations stemming from a 1951 case to support its order to ignore the subpoena.
One of the attorneys, J. Christian Adams, has been advised by his personal attorney, former South Carolina Secretary of State Jim Miles, that failure to comply with the subpoena could put him at risk of prosecution. "I can't imagine," Mr. Miles told The Washington Times, "that a statute that gives rise to the power of a subpoena would be subjugated to some internal procedural personnel rule being promulgated by DoJ." In short, the department is stiffing the commission and unfairly putting its own employee in a legal bind. (continues here)