Aug 05 2010

Shelby: Reorganization Should Not Affect Black Panther Investigation

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), sent the following letter regarding the proposed reorganization within the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.  The reorganization has been proposed by those who are currently being investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility and the United States Commission on Civil Rights to determine whether they improperly interfered in the U.S. v. New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, et al case.

“The Department of Justice inexplicably dropped the charges of voter intimidation against the New Black Panther party in Philadelphia during the 2008 Presidential Election.  The Office of Professional Responsibility and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have since opened an official inquiry into this dismissal and the reorganization should not occur until this investigation and the findings are addressed.”

The full text of the letter is below. A scanned copy is attached.

August 5, 2010


The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

 This letter is in response to the Department’s May 11, 2010 letter regarding a proposed reorganization within the Civil Rights Division (CRT). The primary purposes of the reorganization are to realign and update several managerial and reporting relationships; correct position and office titles to reflect the current managerial and organizational structure; and establish a Policy and Strategy Section to address legal and policy issues that do not fit within any other section’s responsibilities.

We do not approve of the proposed reorganization. Both the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Commission on Civil Rights are conducting reviews to determine whether the leadership of this Division or the Department improperly interfered to dismiss some of the charges in the case, U.S. v. New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, et al. Furthermore, at a recent Commission hearing, there was testimony that an improper double standard is applied by the leadership of the division in bringing voting rights cases. We think it is important to defer consideration of this reorganization until the ongoing investigations provide more information about the actions and decisions of the Division’s leadership. In light of this, we cannot support approval of the proposed reorganization.




Richard Shelby                                   Frank R. Wolf
Ranking Member                                Ranking Member
Senate Subcommittee on Commerce,   House Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, Science and Related Agencies   Justice, Science and Related Agencies

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