Congress is poised to release a report on the sharp drop in civil rights enforcement during George W. Bush's presidency. The 180-page General Accountability Office report is being made public today as the House of Representatives kicks off its first oversight hearings on the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama.
"Despite, or perhaps because of, its importance and effectiveness, the Division has always been controversial," Sen. Edward Kennedy wrote last year in the Harvard Law and Policy Review, the official journal of ACS. "Under the Bush Administration, however, the vital cooperation between political appointees and career civil servants in the Division has broken down, with troubling consequences."
Sen. Kennedy's insights were prescient.
"When the Bush administration ran the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, career lawyers wanted to look into accusations that officials in one state had illegally intimidated blacks during a voter-fraud investigation," reports The Times' Charlie Savage today. "But division supervisors refused to 'approve further contact with state authorities on this matter,' according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office auditing the activities of the division from 2001 to 2007."