The head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division on Wednesday strongly disputed accusations by a department colleague that the Obama administration avoids prosecuting minorities in civil rights cases, saying it all amounts to a "'he said, she said' thing" and that he "tends to judge people by their actions," not their words.
It's the first time Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez has weighed in since Justice Department
lawyer Christopher Coates accused Perez's office of being "hostile" toward "race-neutral enforcement" of voting rights laws.
For more than a year, Republicans have been questioning why the Obama administration reversed course on a federal lawsuit against two members of the New Black Panther Party, who some say intimidated Pennsylvania voters on Election Day 2008. The issue came to a head in late September when Coates, who was heavily involved in the initial filing of the case, defied the Justice Department
and testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, whose conservative majority has led a lengthy and often contentious investigation into the matter.
"I strongly disagree with Mr. Coates," Perez told reporters gathered in a Civil Rights Division conference room in Washington. "You look at our enforcement actions in the Obama administration in the voting context, and you see cases where we've had African-American defendants and white victims, and you see cases that involve white defendants and African-American victims