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“Civil Rights” in the Gonzales Justice Department

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The New York Times’s Neil Lewis profiles exactly what the Civil Rights Division does under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Racial discrimination and protection of the voting rights of minorities is passé, it turns out. Instead the Civil Rights Division has a strong focus on protection of the civil rights of Religious Right groups which constitute a core Bush constituency. But how are its resources allocated?

¶Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

¶Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

¶Vigorously enforcing a law enacted by Congress in 2000 that allows churches and other places of worship to be free of some local zoning restrictions. The division has brought more than two dozen lawsuits on behalf of churches, synagogues and mosques.

¶Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

¶Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.

And voting rights in deepest, darkest Dixie? Yes, indeed, it has recently taken on a case–defending the voting rights of the horribly repressed White citizens of Mississippi. Now that’s change for you.

Moreover, these changed are being anchored in through a process of forcing career employees out of the Justice Department and replacing them with hires from the new “feeder” law schools: Ave Maria, Regent and Liberty, for instance – schools of dubious academic rank, but exceedingly firm political conviction.

The word for this process is Gleichschaltung.

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