Bob Weiner and Hannah Cooms say fighting voter suppression and setting realistic bat to prosecute police and civil rights cases must be contiued
Washington, DC –Robert Weiner, former White House spokesman and spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee, and Policy Analyst Hannah Coombs are asking, “Will Loretta Lynch carry on Eric Holder’s Legacy?” They say that fighting voter suppression and setting a realistic bar to prosecute police and civil rights cases are “challenges” that remain. Weiner and Lynch wrote an article in The Michigan Chronicle, named six times as the nation’s number one African-American newspaper. The article is also syndicated in Real Times Media, a major African-American newspaper group including The Michigan Chronicle, The Chicago Defender, The New Pittsburgh Courier, The Tri-State Defender (Memphis, Tennessee), and The Atlanta Daily World. The article may be found at https://michiganchronicle.com/2015/03/06/will-lynch-carry-on-holder-legacy/ .
The authors note that Lynch will be the first African-American woman Attorney General. While the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-8, Weiner and Coombs say, “Congress is still playing politics over a spotless nominee. No one raised any criticisms of her but Republicans still voted no”.
They report that last month, Holder delivered a “farewell speech” at the National Press Club and admitted that “real and daunting challenges lay before us.”
Aside from his accomplishments with criminal justice reform, same-sex marriage and expanding voter rights, Holder specifically addressed the issue of mandatory minimum sentences. He said they would be “better suited to violent criminals or drug kingpins. In addition, he supported a moratorium on executions. He also raised questions about authorizing surplus military equipment for local police departments, such as those used at Ferguson protests. Holder commented that usage depends on “what kind of training do they have, when should it be deployed, and what does it look like.”
At the Press Club, Holder also discussed his department’s investigation of the Ferguson police department. Weiner and Coombs point out Holder’s “advances for civil rights with the Ferguson case”, with Holder himself calling the report “searing.” The report was issued on March 4th and includes the possibility of the Ferguson Police force facing a law suit for “racially disproportionate arrests” used to grab money for the city, as newly revealed, unless they clean up their actions.
According to Weiner and Coombs, the Press Club event did not raise questions about challenges remaining against voter suppression despite Holder’s advancements. The authors write, “It was surprising that questions were not asked about unsuccessful efforts to stop partisan voter suppression in several states including North Carolina, Florida and Texas.” They noted that “efforts were largely ineffective in eliminating restrictions on absentee ballots, early voting periods, and college addresses, preventing large numbers of African Americans, Hispanics, and young people from voting.”
Another issue not raised to Holder at the Press Club but which he addressed later was “if the bar is too high to prosecute federal civil rights cases”, particularly including unarmed minority shooting deaths by police in Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland, as well as the Trayvon Martin stalking-shooting by a citizen “enforcer” in Sanford, Florida. Since his appearance at the Press Club, Holder has commented, “We do need to change the law. I do think the standard is too high.”
Weiner and Coombs call into question what will happen with these issues after Holder leaves office. “With issues such as these flying under the radar, will Lynch pick up the problems and continue implementing solutions?” There seemed to be hope. When Weiner asked Holder at Cong. John Conyers’ portrait unveiling January 6 if the DOJ would continue the “fight against voter suppression,” Holder responded, “We will.” But now, as Weiner and Coombs point out, “It is up to Lynch”.
Weiner and Coombs argue that “Even as “she comes one step closer to the position, Lynch herself has faced the hostility of those unhappy with her siding with Obama on immigration.” There is apprehension in Congress, they contend, as a result of her similarities to Holder, saying this is “no doubt motive for delaying her confirmation for four months after nomination.” They point out that Harry Reid complained, “She has had to wait longer than any Attorney General nominee in 30 years and that is unacceptable.”
As to the question of whether Lynch will “fill the shoes of her predecessor, as a dynamic civil rights leader,” the writers concluded, “Time will tell. There is a great deal at stake.”
Bob Weiner writes on the White House and Congress for the Chronicle. He is former White House spokesman and senior staff for Congressmen John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. He wrote the epilogue to Bankole Thompson’s groundbreaking book, “Obama and Christian Loyalty.” Hannah Coombs is policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
Source: Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change