Theodore's World: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Lamar Smith Issues First DOJ Oversight Letter

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January 07, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Lamar Smith Issues First DOJ Oversight Letter

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Lamar Smith issues first DOJ oversight letter

The Washington Post

Right Turn sectrioin
By Jennifer Rubin

Right Turn has obtained the first oversight letter from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued to the Justice Department. While he was in the minority, Smith labored, largely unsuccessfully, on the committee to convince the Democratic chairman to investigate a range of issues, including detainee policy and New Black Panther Party case. He now has the authority to schedule hearings, call witnesses and subpoena documents.

In a five-page letter, Smith notes that there has been "little oversight" as to how the civil rights division has used its budget increases ($22 million in FYI 2010 and $17 million requested in FYI 2011) and why the need for some 164 new positions.

He then gets to the heart of the matter. As I and other outlets have reported, he notes that in the New Black Panther Party case investigation, it came to light that a political appointee, Julie Fernandes, directed Justice Department attorneys "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."

Smith then details allegations by former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams that the department declined to enforce the National Voter Registration Act and its provisions relating to "voter integrity."

After reciting the evidence concerning Fernandes's statements and her expressed hostility toward enforcing the NVRA, Smith concludes:

"Allegations that the Civil Rights Division has engaged in a practice of race-biased enforcement of voting rights law must be investigated by the Committee." He then gives Holder until January 21 to respond to a list of questions, including whether Fernandes did, in fact, "explicitly or implicitly direct Voting Section staff not to enforce any section of any federal rights statute" or "not to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act." He demands all documents that relate to the department's enforcement practices under the Voting Rights Act.

The letter is noteworthy on a number of levels.

First, administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing. But as Smith has correctly discerned, the issue of enforcement or non-enforcement of civil rights laws based on a non-colorblind view of those laws is serious and a potentially explosive issue for this administration.

Second, Holder's strategy of stonewalling during the first two years of Obama's term may have backfired. Had he been forthcoming while Democrats were in the majority, he might have been able to soften the blows; Smith is not about to pull his punches.

And finally, Smith is demonstrating the sort of restraint and big-picture focus that is essential for the Republicans if they are to remain credible and demonstrate their capacity for governance.


That took less than 24 hours. Jennifer Rubin has the exclusive news at the Washington Post. Lamar Smith is demanding answers. The speed in which this demand came out of the New Congress sends a message.

UPDATE TWO: A further review of Chairman Smith's letter reveals that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes is also on Smith's radar. It is clear that she is now in the cross-hairs of the House Judiciary Committee, and that is a very unwelcome place to be in Washington D.C. One saw how Democrats running the House and Senate Judiciary Committee handled the DOJ in 2006-2008. Fernandes is the one who refuses to enforce Section 8 of Motor Voter to remove ineligible voters from the rolls.


Wild Thing's comment.........

Heck Yesssssss ! Yahoooooooo!

It's good to read the news today.

Can't wait to see DOJ officials in front of committee under oath. This should be interesting. The issue of whether the Black Panther case should have been prosecuted is obvious to the seeing person.

Posted by Wild Thing at January 7, 2011 04:50 AM


Maybe now we will see the Rule of Law return to some parts of Washington and see a massive list of resignations.

Posted by: Mark at January 7, 2011 08:50 AM

And maybe some jail time for these criminals who denied citizens their right to vote.

Posted by: TomR,armed in Texas at January 7, 2011 08:01 PM

Mark, that would be wonderful to see that happen.

Tom, oh I would love that so much. The way we have seen some of these people get away with things is horrible.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 8, 2011 12:20 AM