The Department of Justice’s Inspector General released a lengthy, nearly 300 page report on the internal workings of its civil rights decision. The report is getting some attention because it concludes that Assistant Attorney General and current nominee to head the Labor Department, Thomas Perez “did not reflect the entire story” regarding his testimony to the US Commission on Civil Rights on the DOJ’s decision to scale back the prosecution of the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation in Philadelphia in 2008.
Just as interesting is how the report characterizes Attorney General Eric Holder’s views on pursuing civil rights cases. He had a particular issue with Christopher Coates, who was Voting Section Chief from January 2008 until January 2010. From Page 52 of the report:
Attorney General Holder told us that he understood from what others told him that Coates was a divisive and controversial person in the Voting Section and that one concern about Coates was that he “wanted to expand the use of the power of the Civil Rights Division in such a way that it would take us into areas that, though justified, would come at a cost of that which the Department traditionally had done, at the cost of people [that the] Civil Rights Division had traditionally protected,” specifically “reverse discrimination” cases. He also stated that he had been told that Coates “was not a person who believed in the traditional way in which things had been done in the Civil Rights Division” under Republican and Democratic administrations, and that Coates’s view on civil rights enforcement was “inconsistent with longtime Justice Department interpretations and policies.”
In other words, Coates wanted to pursue voter discrimination wherever it occurred, including reverse discrimination cases, while Holder saw no reason to do so.