Friday, December 14, 2007

DOJ civil rights head resigns

i haven't been blogging about national politics so much lately, because there are so many great national-themed blogs that i rarely feel like i have anything to add to the discussion. but this ties nicely into the conversation we've been having here at the way over the past couple days.

john tanner, head of the DOJ's civil rights division, resigned today, effective immediately. tpm muckraker has been covering tanner's career at the division for awhile, so i'll just quote from them, leaving in their links:

With Tanner, it had seemed like a matter of not if, but when. As we reported late last month, his travel habits had angered attorneys in the voting section, leading to an investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.

And that was after his comments about the tendency of minorities to "die first" led Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and others to call for his resignation. When he went before the House Judiciary Committee in October, he was lambasted for his tendency of "basing your conclusions on stereotypes" (like, say, claiming that African-Americans have IDs more than whites because they're always going to cash-checking businesses).

But most of all, Tanner's reign is notable for his collusion with the political appointees who oversaw the section, an ongoing effort to reverse the Civil Rights Division's traditional role in protecting minority voters, particularly African-Americans, into one of aiding thinly disguised vote suppression measures (most infamously Georgia's voter ID law). It was an effort that some career DoJ attorneys later described as "institutional sabotage."

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