Abigail Thernstrom

*(Via CBSnews.com) A Bush appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights denounced allegations by some pundits that the Justice Department is refusing to pursue a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party because of race, and suggested that the charges being made by right-wing figures are politically motivated.

Conservative broadcasters and websites have claimed that the Obama administration is dropping prosecution of New Black Panther activists who were videotaped outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day 2008, making intimidating remarks; one man was carrying a nightstick.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, the commission’s vice chair, Abigail Thernstrom, said, “We have no direct evidence that [the NBP activists] actually intimidated anybody, stopped them from voting.” Thernstrom even characterized the case, in a recent column published by the National Review, as “small potatoes.”

Earlier this month former Justice Department lawyer and Republican activist J. Christian Adams testified to the commission that senior officials in the department are not applying voting rights laws in a race-neutral way, by refusing to press charges against African Americans on these issues.

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