Justice Denied

A recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department did little or nothing to enforce the civil rights of Americans during the Bush administration.  The Times has the story here.  This is by no means a surprise.  The press had reported early on during Bush’s tenure about the ineptitude and sheer corruption that had infected the division.  In fact, Charlie Savage, the reporter who wrote the Dec. 3rd Times article, had a hand in writing one of the earlier stories on the division.

Whether the division will be more effective under the Obama administration is an open question.  Yet one should also ask whether a governmental agency, one that is part of the bureaucratic behemoth that is the Department of Justice, should even be in the business of vindicating the civil rights of Americans.  Not that the intent and mission of the division aren’t laudable.  But getting the division to act, however more willing it may be to do so under the current administration, is, without question, a feat in itself, what with all the red tape to unravel and governmental inertia to counteract.  Perhaps the bus should be driven instead by a public-private partnership, where private attorneys enter into pacts with the Justice Department committing them to the civil rights cause, and, in turn, receive governmental support in the form of subsidizing the cost of litigation or even providing the use of governmental investigators.  Just a thought…

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