The U.S. Civil Rights Commission recently subpoenaed the Justice Department in an effort to understand why they dropped charges in May against three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in a voter intimidation case that was won by the government.
Three members of the group were charged in a civil complaint with violating the Voter Rights Act by allegedly using force to threaten voters and block campaign workers in November 2008, according to FoxNews.com.
One of the members, Minister King Samir Shabazz, was accused of brandishing a police-style baton and menacingly pointing it at prospective voters.
The government won the case in April, but moved to dismiss the charges in May after obtaining an injunction against Shabazz. The Justice Department defended its actions, stating that they dismissed the charges "based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law."
The department’s explanation and their subsequent lack of response to inquiries by conservatives have not satisfied members of the Civil Rights Commission or Republican lawmakers.
"Over the last year, the department has stonewalled any effort to learn about the decision to dismiss the case," said Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.), quoted by the news source.
He added, "I have written Attorney General [Eric] Holder on six occasions asking for an explanation for the dismissal of this case. To date, I have received no response from him."
Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, said that insider influence played no role in the dismissal of the charges and that the commission’s inquiry is a "political witch hunt," according to the Associated Press (AP). The Panthers "were not active campaigners [for Obama] and he owes us no favors," he said.