Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) says it's time for answers, and he's tired of the Department of Justice "stonewalling" him. He's referring to allegations from current and former DOJ attorneys that leadership within the department has advised employees that voting rights laws are meant to protect minorities, not whites, and will be enforced accordingly.
Wolf says other DOJ employees, who wish to remain anonymous, have made similar allegations. "I made it very clear to Eric Holder he ought not to be pushing these people around, that they should be encouraged to go forward and testify openly," Wolf says.
The Virginia Republican says he, and other members, have repeatedly asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) to launch a congressional probe. That has yet to happen, but if Republicans retake the House on November 2nd, there is a strong possibility that will change.
It is clear that commissioners now hearing the case view the testimony and evidence very differently. Todd Gaziano, who holds one of the independent seats, says the reasons behind the decisions regarding the New Black Panther case equal "a scandal of epic proportions," Gaziano says. "The only evidence we have from live witnesses is that this case was dismissed because of hostility to race-neutral enforcement of the civil rights law." He has voiced serious concerns about the current culture within the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
By contrast, Commissioner Michael Yaki, who holds one of the Democratic seats on the Commission, believes the New Black Panthers case has been blown out of proportion. "The Assistant Attorney General came to our commission and testified that he would enforce the law in voting rights in a race-neutral fashion," Yaki says of Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.
Yaki says in addition to that verbal testimony, DOJ has proven this commitment by working to enforce the rights of white voters in a prominent case now playing out in Mississippi. Yaki says those actions speak louder than words, and that, "It is important for the American people to understand that DOJ is committed to protect the rights of all voters: white, black, Asian, Latino, women - you name it."
The commission's work is far from done, and while it continues to look into the New Black Panther case another investigation will be running parallel. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine has launched a probe as well, saying his focus will be on the overall issue of voting rights enforcement within the division.