If you followed the saga of how the Bush-era Justice Department tried to turn the protection of voting rights for minorities into the protection of white people from minorities, then this won’t come as a huge surprise. But it’s startling nonetheless that the last guy to head the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division under Bush testified today that it was a “travesty” that the Department didn’t take a race-neutral approach to cases like the New Black Panthers case in the 2008 election. By race-neutral, he means taking just as an aggressive approach to the long history of minority disenfranchisement of majority white voters as the department historically took to protect black voters. Yes, that’s meant sarcastically.
Christopher Coates is now an assistant U.S. attorney in South Carolina, and he testified against orders from DOJ. He was the guy who brought the Black Panthers case originally and is still griped about it being dropped. Appointed by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Coates replaced John Tanner, who TPMers will remember as the guy who defended voter ID laws on the grounds that they discriminated against seniors and blacks equally because “minorities don’t become elderly the way white people do: They die first.”
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.