Salvo 02.23.2024 10 minutes

Civil Wrongs Division

The civil rights act of 1964 title VII printed in business law textbook

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice should be disbanded.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (CRD) was established through the 1957 Civil Rights Act. In the ensuing years, its attorneys prosecuted important civil rights cases at the end of the Jim Crow era. Today, though, that respectable past is ancient history. By the early years of this century, CRD had become a dumping ground for aging attorneys desperately seeking and crushing the dying embers of actual civil rights infractions, even as the supply dwindled past the point of irrelevance for the department. As we demonstrate below, by the time Obama was elected, there simply were not enough civil rights offenses—even in a nation of more than 300,000,000—to justify CRD’s continued existence, at least not on the same grounds that justified its creation.  

Given the dearth of real civil rights offenses, CRD had no choice but to transition from prosecuting real hate crimes to serving as the enforcers of the regime’s divisive racialist agenda. To do this, it had to manufacture a supply of fake hate crimes and so-called civil rights offenses because, as Glenn Reynolds observed, “the demand for hate crimes far exceeds the supply.” It also had to staff up with regime apparatchiks. By Obama’s second term, CRD had filled its ranks with radical partisan ideologues to pursue the regime’s identity politics goals without recourse to any coherent definition of “civil rights” or “hate crime.” 

In a perfect example of Conquest’s Law, a quick look at CRD’s leadership and analysis of its recent case load reveal a bureaucracy overtaken by a cabal of its enemies. CRD provides cover for the regime’s evergreen and perpetually false narrative that anti-black and anti-Hispanic hate crimes are at epidemic levels; it routinely advances the interests of illegal aliens and foreign nationals at the expense of Americans and American businesses; it takes inconsistent positions between cases; it litigates shockingly inane matters; it prosecutes ordinary people who express religious or political views opposed by the ruling elite; and, above all, it came down on the wrong side of the most egregious civil rights violation in recent memory–the state-sponsored scapegoating of Derek Chauvin. 

A Bad Tone at the Top

In 2021, President Biden nominated Kristen Clarke to serve as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of CRD. Clarke is an avowed black racial supremacist who once wrote an essay for the Harvard Crimson defending the view that black people had superior mental faculties. (Unsurprisingly, I can’t find her essay online anymore, though I once had a printout. It’s even worse than implied in that link.) When Clarke’s racist past came to light as part of the nomination process, all the usual apologists emerged to explain that pointing out Clarke’s racist views was itself chauvinistic and racist.

DOJ insists that hate crimes are rampant and getting worse, and that whites are targeting blacks at epidemic levels. Clarke recently repeated these lies in testimony to Congress: “our work remains vital as we continue to see acts of bigotry, violence and discrimination in many aspects of life” and “black people remain the group most frequently targeted of hate crimes.”

Clarke ignored important facts that demolish her claims. Even using DOJ’s capacious definition of “hate crime,” there were only 11,634 such incidents in all of 2022. If all those “incidents” became convictions, less than one-half of one percent of all nationwide felony convictions in 2022 would have been hate crime related (even less, if we count misdemeanors, which we can presume many of these “incidents” were). So much for “seeing” hate crimes “in many aspects of life.” Though “hate crimes” by white offenders rose 19 percent between Joe Biden’s inauguration and 2022 (the last year for which FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics are available), hate crimes by black offenders rose 36 percent during the same time period, a fact Clarke neglected to mention.

It is well-known but unsayable that blacks commit most violent crimes at grossly disproportionate rates. The same is true for hate crimes, where blacks were 21 percent of offenders in 2022 but comprised only about 14 percent of the population. For what it’s worth, the increase from 2020 notwithstanding, total hate crimes have barely budged since 2010, though the country’s population increased from 308,000,000 to 331,000,000 in the ensuing decade. CRD lies about these statistics to prevent you from noticing that it should be disbanded. 

Manufactured, Inane, and Destructive Prosecutions

CRD manufactures grievances out of the toxic soup of modern psychology and victimhood identity. For example, under Clarke, CRD recently filed a “statement of interest” in a gender dysphoria case. There, CRD argued that correctional institutions must provide “appropriate care for people with gender dysphoria, no matter their particular circumstances.” The phrase “particular circumstances” means “being in prison.” Failing to provide such care, according to Clarke’s CRD, is an Eighth Amendment violation. Not having a taxpayer-funded counselor to listen to male prisoners gripe about their limited access to womens’ underwear is cruel and unusual…or something. 

On January 11, Clarke convened a meeting with other agency officials to “discuss the critical intersection of artificial intelligence and civil rights.” Clarke promised that “all hands [are] on deck” and DOJ “will continue to work to investigate, challenge and combat discrimination based on automated systems.” You are excused if you worried that the machines might annihilate humanity on an equal-opportunity basis. As it turns out, our rising digital overlords are white supremacists. This is convenient, since there aren’t enough human white supremacists to satisfy the regime’s propaganda mouthpieces. 

Though CRD’s misadventures are humorous, they are also destructive. As I wrote last fall, Clarke recently unleashed DOJ’s moral busybodies on regime-opponent Elon Musk, claiming SpaceX violated relevant law by refusing to hire asylees. Never mind that federal statute requires SpaceX to hire American citizens and permanent residents. Now she’s at it again, this time extracting thousands from a blue-collar staffing company CRD accused of hiring Americans for jobs at American businesses in America. Pay no attention to the fact that nearly all the net gain in jobs since Biden took office has gone to non-native born workers.

CRD targets the speech and assembly of people who oppose the regime. Just a few weeks ago, CRD convicted five men and one woman who protested outside of a Nashville abortion clinic. In doing so, the defendants intentionally obstructed access to the clinic, a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act. Whether this is still a viable federal offense in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision (which eliminated the “right” to an abortion) is a question the attorneys at CRD have, apparently, decided in their favor. One can still ask, however, why we need federal prosecution of these offenses at all, given that (post Dobbs)states can shut the clinics down and local police needed no assistance handling the matter. 

CRD also takes wildly inconsistent positions. For example, it prosecutes American banks simultaneously for lending and for not lending to unqualified borrowers. In December, CRD filed a lawsuit pertaining to the illegal immigrant camp turned sprawling 33,000 acre “neighborhood” in Texas now known as Colony Ridge. There, CRD claimed that the defendant lenders discriminated against Hispanics by lending to them without “verifying income or ability to pay.” But, a month later, Clarke extorted $1,500,000 from a Memphis bank because it was “discouraging [black and Hispanic borrowers] … from obtaining home loans,” after it had verified their low income and inability to pay. 

This is no anomaly. A few weeks ago, Clarke’s office landed another $13,500,000 haul from a Charlotte bank that also “discouraged potential [black and Hispanic] loan applicants … from seeking home loans.” In both cases, the banks didn’t refuse to lend to blacks and Hispanics, they simply “discouraged” borrowers from incurring debts they wouldn’t be able to repay; but, CRD didn’t like that too many of those borrowers happened to be black and Hispanic. For the crime of doling out good advice to too many blacks and Hispanics, Clarke sued. As an aside, Clarke “also allege[d] that . . . the bank closed its only branch located in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood.” Thus has CRD made lending, not lending, and closing a lender unlawful, provided BIPOCs are somehow involved.  

By joining forces with Hennepin county and Minnesota state authorities, CRD helped to string up Officer Derek Chauvin despite the obvious fact that he was innocent. In doing so, CRD betrayed its core mission and let an angry racist mob vent its rage on a single man because of his race. CRD had the opportunity to vindicate its existence by coming to the aid of this man who stood no chance of defending his civil rights in state court. Instead, CRD jumped on the pile. This decision was particularly cowardly since CRD was on the same side as the state authorities. As such, its federal prosecution was entirely superfluous to the murder conviction. It had no purpose at all. This infamous decision will forever taint CRD’s reputation–its attorneys just haven’t realized it yet.  

One of CRD’s early and noble responsibilities was ensuring the equal protection of the law in the Jim Crow south. It did this by investigating and monitoring school districts, police forces, and other municipal and state government entities. As legitimate cases dried up, however, CRD began investigating and monitoring states outside of the deep south, including states that were not part of the Union in 1865. This mission creep was tolerated for a bit. Today, however, Americans are wary of the pretense that CRD is a competent, neutral monitor of local government affairs or that there are any bona fide grounds that would justify such monitoring in the first instance. As just one promising example, Phoenix recently told DOJ to get lost, referring to the CRD as “corrupt” and “purely political” and denying that its police force needed federal oversight. Several congressmen supported their position. 

Americans are realizing that CRD is headed by a racial supremacist and staffed with radical partisan ideologues who have nothing to do in the face of a shortage of real civil rights offenses. With nothing better to do, CRD spends its time compensating illegal aliens at taxpayers’ expense, suing American businesses for hiring American citizens, extorting American banks for lending when CRD thinks they shouldn’t while extorting other banks for not lending when CRD thinks they should, suppressing Americans’ speech, pursuing inane projects (AI, prison gender dysphoria), tyrannizing cities, and otherwise pursuing cases that undermine the national interest. It’s time to disband the Civil Rights Division.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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