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Oversight by Default

The Democratic-dominated Congress has made it perfectly obvious that it has no interest in exercising oversight of the Obama administration. No ACORN investigation, no probe into why the administration meandered through nine months of engagement with Iran despite knowledge of the Qom enrichment site, and definitely no hearings on the dismissal of the New Black Panther voting-intimidation case. Into the void has stepped the U. S. Civil Rights Commission. Last week the commission was at it again.

On Friday, the commission’s chairman and four commissioners sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on the subject of ACORN and its involvement in voting fraud, a topic within the commission’s statutory jurisdiction. They reminded Holder of the lopsided Senate and House votes to cut off funding for ACORN, as well as the commission’s previous correspondence to then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate ACORN’s alleged activities (“filing possibly hundreds of thousands of fraudulent voter registration applications in some fourteen states — an invidious invitation for corruption in our election process”). And they called on the Justice Department “to investigate and root out ACORN corruption with a nationwide probe.”

Now, one would think that the Department of Justice, in such a widespread and highly publicized voter-corruption case, would need no urging to investigate and enforce federal law. And one would also think that congressmen and senators who bemoaned the supposed lack of civil rights enforcement in the Bush administration would be interested in determining whether the right to vote of ordinary citizens was infringed upon by a systematic scheme to  dilute lawfully cast votes. But no. So the task of both informing the public and spurring government action falls to an independent commission with limited resources, staff, and budget.

One additional note: the same day that the letter to Holder was sent, the commission sent correspondence to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a list of Democratic and Republican House leaders objecting to the pending health-care bill’s provision giving “preferential treatment [in medical and dental schools and other institutions which train health-care professionals] in admissions to members of underrepresented minorities.” As the commissioners explain, this measure falsely assumes that racial health disparities are caused by a shortage of medical professionals from minority groups and will most likely be found unconstitutional. One can imagine that the newly confirmed civil rights chief Thomas Perez isn’t likely to give similar legal advice to Congress.

It seems then that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission is the lone entity in Washington concerned with robust enforcement of federal voting laws without regard to the political connections of the alleged perpetrators and with adherence to constitutionally sound lawmaking on matters of race.


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