Dismissal of Black Panther Defendants: Not Based on Race

The Justice Department has concluded that the voting rights case was properly handled, but conservatives aren't satisfied.

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The Associated Press reports that an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence that politics were at play when the department dismissed three members of the New Black Panther Party from a voting rights lawsuit in which they were defendants.

The case originated with complaints that New Black Panther Party leaders intimidated white voters at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day in 2008.

In January 2009, the Department of Justice sued Minister King Samir Shabazz, Jerry Jackson, Malik Zulu Shabazz and the New Black Panther Party, alleging Voting Act violations.

But two lawyers who formerly worked in the department's Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division claimed that they experienced hostility from senior officials and career attorneys when it came to pursuing Voting Rights Act violations against minorities accused of harassing white voters.

Not so, said OPR today:

"We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the department," and the government attorneys acted appropriately in the exercise of their supervisory duties, the office wrote in a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

It added, "We found no evidence to support allegations -- which were raised during the course of our investigation -- that the decision makers, either in bringing or dismissing the claims, were influenced by the race of the defendants.”

So we can close the door on this one, right? Not so fast. Conservatives still aren't satisfied with the results, and many on the right say they smell a cover-up. As the Washington Post's Adam Serwer put it, "For today's conservatives, the absence of evidence of a conspiracy merely serves as more evidence of a conspiracy."

Read more at the Associated Press and the Washington Post.