In an op-ed published on Fox News' website today, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, accused the Department of Justice of reverse discrimination against whites in its handling of a case against the New Black Panther Party.
"[The] dream of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was not that whites would someday get the same wrong treatment and abuse that black Americans had faced," he wrote.
On Election Day in 2008, two members of the NBPP were videotaped standing outside a polling station in Philadelphia, allegedly intimidating white voters. One was seen brandishing a police baton. During the last days of the Bush administration, the Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against three members of the NBBP; the lawsuit was subsequently dropped more than a year ago under President Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder. Controversy erupted among conservative media outlets this summer when a former Justice Department lawyer accused Holder of dropping the case for racial reasons.
Rep. Smith wrote in his op-ed that the outcome would have been different had the defendants belonged to another, more infamous organization. "Had the defendants been members of the Ku Klux Klan, I doubt the Justice Department would have dropped the charges," he said. "And by not fully prosecuting the case, the Justice Department has sent the message that voter intimidation of white voters is acceptable."
A 23-year veteran in the U.S.House, Smith is also a ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. He is being challenged for his seat this fall by Democrat Lainey Melnick, a real estate broker from Austin.