SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was transformed from an organization that defended the voting rights of minorities into a tool in a Republican Party campaign to suppress minority voters, McClatchy Newspapers report. McClatchy says that at least a dozen political appointees at the Department of Justice were involved in the scheme. The key figure was a former Republican Party electoral tactician from Georgia named Hans von Spakovsky.
During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article. Writing as “Publius,” von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was “no evidence” that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.
Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters. “Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration’s pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,” charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him. He and other former career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots.
The McClatchy piece documents a long list of antics that von Spakovsky undertook, including:
the promotion of “Jim Crow” legislation designed to block minorities from voting,
tinkering with a commission studying voter fraud to delay its report and then falsifying the report to suggest that it found there was some basis for voter fraud claims – when it found the opposite,
engineering the firing of the Republican chair of the commission because he considered him insufficiently ferocious and partisan.
The McClatchy report provides substantial further detail to accusations which have been laid out before. It also ties closely to the plan to purge U.S. attorneys around the country, as a focal complaint in a large number of cases – most recently demonstrated by evidence coming out of Kansas City – had to do with their failure to participate in the fraudulent voter suppression campaign.
As columnist Marie Coco states in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star, drawing on the McClatchy report, “It is time to stop referring to the ‘fired U.S attorneys scandal’ by that misnomer, and call it what it is: a White House-coordinated effort to use the vast powers of the Justice Department to swing elections to Republicans.” The evidence for this proposition is now overwhelming.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”