Mary Frances Berry: The U.S. Civil Rights Commission Has Become ‘Useless Right-Wing Political Cabal’

August 04, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Nine months after members of the New Black Panther Party were arrested for menacing voters (dressing in black uniforms and holding nightsticks) outside of a Philadelphia polling place, two months after the Department of Justice dropped a case on them, conservatives are still making hay out of the bizarre election day incident. Today the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights made its second complaint about the Justice Department’s decision (the first was on June 16), and Commission chairman Gerald A. Reynolds (an appointee of President George W. Bush) asked whether the department would have let off “neo-Nazi groups or the Ku Klux Klan” so easily.

I asked Mary Frances Berry, who served two terms as chairwoman of the CCR, for a response to her successor’s comments. “This is part of the orchestrated right-wing attack on Eric Holder’s Justice department,” said Berry. She pointed to articles in the Weekly Standard and the American Spectator as more evidence of the campaign to discredit Holder. “The Commission is a useless right-wing political cabal which needs to be replaced with a new civil and human rights commission, as I propose in my book, and as recommended by the civil rights groups.”