Bush-Era DOJ-er Stoking New Black Panther Case

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It was always going to take more than a few speeches by Eric Holder to clear out the rot of the Bush-Gonzales years at the Department of Justice. And sure enough, it looks like DOJ lawyers hired during the last administration are still making mischief for the current one.

Meet J. Christian Adams. He’s the Civil Rights Division attorney who, according to Main Justice, helped bring that voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther party, stemming from an Election Day incident.The case was dismissed in May, with DOJ officials saying the evidence was weak, and the incident isolated. But it — and Adams himself — are still causing a headache for the department.

That’s because the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, currently dominated by conservatives, has been investigating DOJ’s decision to drop it. And, reports Main Justice, Adams is in conflict with his Obama administration bosses over whether he’s obliged to comply with a subpoena from the commission on it. The Justice Department has said it doesn’t have to comply, and has ordered Adams not to testify until a final decision has been made. Adams counters that not doing so could expose him to the risk of jail time.

But a fear of prison may not be the only reason Adams is eager to testify about how the case he helped bring got shelved. According to Main Justice, he was hired to the Civil Rights Division in 2005 by none other than Bradley Schlozman, the Bush appointee who, as acting head of the division in 2006, was found to have violated rules against politicized hiring, then lied to Congress about it.

Adams is also a former volunteer with the right-wing National Republican Lawyers Association, which just today charged that the Holder Justice Department’s stances on both the Panther case and the ACORN funding case show that “politics can thwart the rule of law.”

And in 2004, as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, Adams publicly criticized a black couple that refused to accept a provisional ballot, after election officials said they had no record of the couple’s change of address forms, Bloomberg reported. Voters had been warned not to accept provisional ballots, because of the risk that they could later be discounted.

We don’t yet know how the stand-off over the commission’s New Black Panther probe will play out. But one thing is clear: the fight to end the Bushies’ politicization of the Department of Justice continues.

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