Congress set its sights on the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division in hearings yesterday. John Tanner, the head of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights Unit testified before the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Civil Rights.
Congressmen Keith Ellison, Artur Davis, and others grilled Tanner until he was well cooked. Members of the Committee specifically called attention to Tanner's recent controversial comments about Blacks dying early....
Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) laid into voting section chief John Tanner during the hearing today over his comment earlier this month that "our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first." Tanner made the remarks as justification for his conviction that voter ID laws actually discriminate against whites. In Tanner's calculus, since minorities don't age "the way white people do," the effect of voter ID laws on the elderly means that whites are disproportionately affected. And since younger African-Americans frequently carry IDs because of racial profiling and the need to cash checks at "a check cashing business," voter ID laws actually favor African-Americans.
Watch a short video of Tanner's comments and his exchanges with members of the Sub-Committee on Civil Rights. Congressman Davis crushes the rationale for Tanner's comments.
Committee members also focused on the lack of overall enforcement of existing voting rights laws, and the lack of enforcement by the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division In General. A former employee of the Voting Rights Unit testified about how Tanner has contributed to the politicization of the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division. There have been numerous reports about the lack of enforcement from within the Civil Rights Division, due to political interference. Several experienced career attorneys have left the Civil Rights Division within the last several years (under the Bush Administration).
Under the Bush Administration, the Civil Rights Division reportedly moved away from aggressive enforcement of Civil Rights Laws to more of a political wing of the White House, engaging in actions having little to do with Civil Rights and Voting Rights. The Division has been involved in numerous efforts that appear to be motivated by politics...such as aggressive enforcement of certain voting rules, in certain key battleground States at election time.
Watch Full Video of Hearing
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See PBS Investigative Report on Voter Suppression efforts under the Bush Administration
Greg Palast Reports on Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias
The Justice Department and Voter Suppression