The Need for Change in Philadelphia – Not Threatening Voters

Hans von Spakovsky /

Prior to the November election, the media was full of stories and claims that John McCain and those terrible Republicans would be trying to intimidate voters in order to win the election. Barack Obama’s lawyer even wrote a letter to the Justice Department demanding that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate McCain and other Republican officials for talking about voter fraud because it was an obvious attempt to “suppress” the vote of minorities.

All of these claims, of course, were composed of nothing more substantial than moonshine. The only real case of voter intimidation that surfaced was captured by Fox News on election day. One of their reporters shot video of members of the New Black Panther Party in military-style uniforms at a polling place in Philadelphia. The Justice Department recently filed suit against the New Black Panther Party as well as individual members like Jerry Jackson for violating Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act for engaging “in coercion, threats, and intimidation” of voters, including “racial threats and racial insults” as well as brandishing “a deadly weapon. The weapon deployed was a nightstick, or baton.” Mr. Jackson is also a Democratic Committeeman of the 14th Ward in Philadelphia who was elected in 2006

Section 11 of the VRA is rarely used these days by the Justice Department because these kinds of physical threats against voters that were common in the 1960’s rarely happen anymore. So the filing of such a lawsuit should be big news, especially given the fears expressed prior to the election that such events would occur.

Think again. When the Justice Department put out a press release on its filing of this case, and made a copy of its complaint available, there was virtually no coverage of this new lawsuit by the mainstream press. Does anyone have any doubt that if the Republican Party had been accused of this kind of behavior, it would have been front page news at the Washington Post and the New York Times? I guess it is just that the wrong party with the wrong ideology that got caught threatening voters.