The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights did not receive a response from Attorney General Eric Holder on whether Justice Department employees will testify at their upcoming hearing on an alleged case of voter intimidation in Philadelphia on election day 2008, a spokeswoman told Main Justice.
On April 1, Commission Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a response by April 12 on whether DOJ employees would appear before the commission on April 23. That hearing is part of the commission’s inquiry into an incident in November 2008 involving members of the New Black Panther Party. As of Wednesday afternoon, the commission had yet to receive a response, said spokeswoman Lenore Ostrowsky.
The commission also announced details about next week’s hearing. Those testifying include Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.); Philadelphia Republican poll watchers Bartle Bull, Mike Mauro and Chris Hill; and former Assistant Attorney General and Acting Associate Attorney General Gregory Katsas, now of Jones Day.
On Election Day in November 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party dressed in military garb and stood outside a Philadelphia polling place. One of the men carried a nightstick, which some alleged was intended to intimidate voters. A career DOJ lawyer, who was allegedly hired during the Bush administration for his conservative background, pursued a voter intimidation case against the men and the New Black Panther party — the second time the Bush DOJ filed suit under Section 11 (b) of the Civil Rights Act, both times targeting black defendants.
After the Obama administration took office, another career lawyer appointed to acting head of the Civil Rights Division determined the case had no merit. The department dropped the case and obtained an injunction against the man with the nightstick. House Republicans cried foul, and the conservative-controlled U.S. Commission on Civil Rights took up the case.