UPDATE: Hearing on DOJ's Handling of New Black Panther Case Not Likely

UPDATE: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., shows no indication that he's going to follow the request of committee Republicans and schedule a hearing specifically for lingering questions over the Justice Department's handling of a controversial voter intimidation case with racial undercurrents.

"The current partisan focus on this issue seems to be a product of the election year calendar more than credible evidence of wrongdoing," Leahy wrote in his response letter to the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. "The insinuation that there may be 'widespread politicization and possible corruption' seems to echo the ongoing drumbeat on partisan advocacy cable and radio shows. Questions about this incident have been asked and answered numerous times," Leahy said.


A Senate Democratic source tells Fox News that last week's request from Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to hold a hearing investigating the Justice Department's decision to back off a controversial case of alleged voter intimidation will plow over ground already covered by the committee, though the source would not rule out the idea.

The source would not speak for attribution because Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has not yet had time to dicuss the letter with his staff. But the source did say that the DOJ official in the crosshairs of the firestorm, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez, answered questions at length in testimony before the committee in April.

"Regardless of which party has occupied the White House, as Chairman, Senator Leahy has sought to conduct oversight of the Department of Justice – the oversight hearing in April with Assistant Attorney General Perez, and the oversight hearing with the Attorney General in June are just two of the most recent examples, and I would expect those oversight hearings to continue in the future," the source told Fox News. The source expects that Leahy will consider the request made by all seven of the panel's Republicans no differently than any other formal letter.

"This Committee has a duty to investigate such serious allegations that strike at the heart of the Department’s integrity," the letter to Leahy says.

The original incident took place in 2008 on election day when two members of the New Black Panther Party were videotaped at a Phildelphia polling station intimidating voters and others.

The controversy erupted over the allegations made by a former Justice Department lawyer who claims the Obama Administration's investigation and prosecution of the case was watered-down because of political considerations.

Friday's letter says, "if these alarming allegations are true, the Civil Rights Division is actively engaged in widespread politicization and possible corruption."