"Imagine what a Romney Justice Department would look like"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 12 2012 1:02 PM

"Imagine what a Romney Justice Department would look like"

Matthew Boyle, the Daily Caller's man on Fast and Furious, ponders the meaning of this line in Vice President Biden's NAACP speech.

“Imagine what the Romney Justice Department will look like,” Biden told the NAACP audience on Thursday. “Imagine when his senior advisor on constitutional issues is Robert Bork. Imagine those incredibly important positions of justice" ...
The Biden comment likely sits well with NAACP members as, on Tuesday, the NAACP unanimously passed an “emergency resolution” calling the bipartisan votes to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress a “travesty of justice."
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But the reference wasn't just to Holder. NAACP members are acutely aware of a series of voting rights scandals that unfolded between 2000 and 2008 -- especially after 2006, when black Democrats wielded some power again in the House. Monica Goodling, chief of staff to the attorney general, violated guidelines by using partisanship to determine who to hire. (One question in her interviews: "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?") The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, which (generically speaking) pursues voter fraud claims, lost 70 percent of its lawyers, and the people who took it over, like Christopher Coates, accused the Obama crew of being "biased against whites." The sense of the average NAACP member is that the Bush administration went easy on voting rights issues that affected blacks, like the long lines in Ohio's black precincts in 2008.

Now, add to that how the Obama Civil Rights Division, run by Tom Perez, has dove into cases of possible police misconduct. As Adam Serwer pointed out, the Trayvon Martin investigation was the 19th such invesigation by Perez's office. That's a record. When a Republican like Mitt Romney talks about his family's civil rights advocacy in the 1960s, it's appreciated. But the activists closest to this stuff spot a difference between the way Democratic-run DOJs and local AG/Secretary of State offices pursue racially charged voting/police abuse cases. That was probably Biden's point.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.