Trump Appoints Voting Rights Act Critic and Voter Suppression Advocate to U.S. Civil Rights Commission

J. Christian Adams called critics of Trump's Election Integrity Commission "flat-earthers" (Image from Fox & Friends Sunday, 7/16/2017)

President Donald Trump has appointed J. Christian Adams, an advocate for voter suppression who has mocked the idea that structural racism in the U.S. is a serious problem, to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Commissioners serve six-year terms.

Adams is a former DOJ official who became a star of sorts on the right-wing talk circuit by trashing the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder, and what Adams characterized as “race-obsessed” civil rights policies. In 2014, he charged that the Justice Department’s civil rights division was filled with “rancid, rotted, corrupt racialists.”

When Adams testified at a congressional hearing in 2013 after the Supreme Court’s conservatives gutted the Voting Rights Act, The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen described him as “a longtime conservative critic of many facets of the Voting Rights Act, whose claim to fame as a federal lawyer seems to be his penchant for accusing black people of discriminating against whites.”

When the Senate was considering the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, Adams attacked her for recognizing structural racism in voting rights and law enforcement. “I think that Lynch buys into this same grievance industry about structural racism in the United States, about how minorities cannot get a fair shake ever, that the system is stacked against them, that it’s a collectivist, anti-individual approach to things,” Adams said in an interview with a right-wing radio host.

Adams was a ringleader of a smear campaign that successfully killed the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the civil rights division. And he led a right-wing propaganda campaign about the DOJ’s handling of a voter-intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party.

In 2016, Adams charged that the Obama administration was “using the power of the federal government to engage in a despicable and calculated attack on law enforcement for the last seven years.”

Adams was a member of the Trump administration’s embarrassing and short-lived “Commission on Election Integrity,” which was seemingly designed to find evidence to back up Trump’s claim that illegal votes were the explanation for him losing the popular vote.

In April, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins used a bogus statistic from Adams’ Public Interest Legal Foundation to portray calls for increased mail-in voting opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic as a sinister Democratic plot.

At a Conservative Political Action Conference panel in 2019, Adams called “alien registration” the next “battle space”—and he repeated claims that Texas officials made about tens of thousands of noncitizens on the voter rolls even though Texas Secretary of State David Whitley had apologized for sending out bogus numbers that the Texas Tribune wrote “mistakenly threw into question the eligibility of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens.”

In its report on Adams’ nomination, the progressive digital media outlet American Independent reviewed Adams’ record of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, which included a denunciation of then Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Chai Feldblum as “the ideological architect of all the most radical LGBTWHATEVER agenda items of the Obama presidency: transvestites in girls locker rooms, lawless expansion of federal employment oversight, you name it.”