By Editorial Board
The rule of law is meant to guide the administration of justice. But in an administration obsessed with race, not necessarily. The Obama Justice Department has instructed judges across the nation to lighten up on the poor, and especially poor minorities, or else. The lady with the blindfold and sword has tossed her blindfold aside and put the weight of her sword on the scale to favor those with the right connections.
The Obama administration is all about payback. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has written to municipal and state judges from coast to coast warning them that federal funds for their courthouses could be cut unless they dial back fees and fines levied against “economically disadvantaged” defendants guilty of minor crimes, particularly those of ethnic minorities who don’t have the money to pay their fines.
The letter, dispatched March 14, was signed by Vanita Gupta, an assistant attorney general, and Lisa Foster, the director of the Office for Access, and lays out what they call “basic constitutional principles relevant to the enforcement of fines and fees.” Among them is a prohibition against jailing someone for failing to pay without first asking whether he is poor and whether the nonpayment was willful, together with a demand to consider alternatives to jail. Judges were warned that practices that “impose disparate harm on the basis of race or national origin” may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the wake of Justice Department investigations into civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, municipal authorities are sensitive to racial discrimination, as they should be, but now judges are asked to be financial analysts and cut offenders a break if they’re broke. Who says crime does not pay?
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By James Burdick
What’s the point of printing the ka-ka that the Washington Times pouts out? This is their absurd take on a very serious problems. It’s not the assessment of costs, fines and fees that the economically disadvantaged suffer – typically black and other minorities – it’s putting them in jail “until” they can pay.
Which of course is never. How does that help society. Someone steals a pound of hamburger meat from a grocery store. What is he, a terrorist? A murdered? A rapist? No, he’s hungry and has no money for food for himself or his family. So order him to pay thousands in costs, court fees and fines and then jail him for not paying because he has no money? This the Washington Times thinks is evidence of race bias by the President’s administration. They should try living on $7.00 an hour with a few kids and see how long they can do that.
James Burdick, a former Wayne County prosecutor, is a criminal defense attorney who also handles health care cases at Burdick Law, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.