Eric Holder’s Legacy
This column by ACRU Policy Board Member J. Christian Adams was published April 23, 2015 at The Washington Times.
Alas, the Eric Holder era is over. But critics who think his departure means normalcy will return haven’t been paying attention. Mr. Holder was President Obama’s point man for fundamentally transforming the country, and he did his job well.
At the center of Mr. Holder’s transformative agenda was race. Race has always occupied Mr. Holder’s attention; he once said, “There’s a common cause that bonds the black United States attorney with the black criminal.”
In what could have been a presidency where race faded into America’s rear-view mirror, Mr. Holder turned race into the road map.
It all started in 2009 when I was at the Department of Justice. I witnessed a new way of looking at the law. To Mr. Holder and his newly empowered progressive lawyers, the law was a mere suggestion, not a constraining force.
When the Justice Department dismissed my voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, it was the first inkling this was no ordinary attorney general. Worse yet, after the dismissal, Mr. Holder presided in meetings of Civil Rights Division managers cooking up plans to oust managers who dared to enforce civil rights laws against black defendants.
But the New Black Panther mess was just the beginning.
The Justice Department Civil Rights Division —- something Mr. Holder explicitly said would be the focus of his tenure — became an engine of fundamental transformation. It became the taxpayer-fueled command center for the progressive left.
Radical policies, laughable just a decade ago, began to appear in the form of a federal fist.
When a New York high school prohibited boys from dressing like drag queens —- wearing pink wigs and stiletto heels —- Mr. Holder’s Justice Department forced the Mohawk Central School District to capitulate. Mr. Holder imposed $75,000 annual transvestite sensitivity training on the school for good measure.
Mr. Holder’s Civil Rights Division turned the Americans with Disabilities Act into a federal mandate forcing restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations into allowing miniature horses, pigs and ferrets in as emotional support animals.
When South Carolina and other states enacted photo voter identification laws, Mr. Holder sprang into action and turned the Justice Department into a base-mobilization organization for the president’s re-election in 2012.
Mr. Holder’s opposition to election integrity demonstrates the confluence of race and politics. He conjured all of the morally sacred language of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and employed it recklessly against voter ID.
He compared voter ID to a poll tax, even though courts had specifically rejected such a false comparison.
Just before Christmas in 2011, black voters were unexcited about Mr. Obama. So Mr. Holder launched a government-driven campaign against voter ID in South Carolina and activated a moribund political base for the president’s re-election. Without a racially polarized and activated base, Mr. Obama could not have won in 2012.
Mr. Holder was an attorney general not beyond using scare tactics against minorities to win re-election.
His scare tactics and bullying showed up again in places like Sanford, Florida, and Ferguson, Missouri.
In both places, Mr. Holder’s hasty rhetoric gave comfort to mobs, first against George Zimmerman and then against Officer Darren Wilson. Contrary to tradition at the Justice Department, Mr. Holder brazenly took sides before any investigation was commenced. He went to Ferguson to announce what everybody knew —- “I am a black man,” he told the protesters.
Once again, Mr. Holder’s job was to scare and mobilize minorities.
Of course, we now know Mr. Holder’s appearance in Ferguson was just racial theater. The “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was a lie. But that didn’t matter at the time. Short memories mean the mob grew agitated, and forgot.
What doesn’t have a short life is Mr. Holder’s transformation of the Department of Justice. He has allowed an ideological hiring campaign to take place to fill the rank-and-file with leftist lawyers. When the Justice Department inspector general urged the administration to abandon the use of any perceived ideological litmus tests —- such as only hiring lawyers from left-wing civil rights groups —- Mr. Holder rejected the request.
Give the devil his due. Holder was a fighter for the left. Department of Justice misbehavior, which would shame previous attorneys general, only seemed to embolden this man. His departure might relieve many, but his legacy should frighten us all.