Why has a federal civil-rights murder investigation arisen out of the tumult in a St. Louis exurb? There is only one plausible reason: Eric Holder is guilty of racial profiling.
To be clear, we are not talking here about whether there was justification for the shooting of a young black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by a young white police officer, 28-year-old Darren Wilson. Was the shooting a legitimate exercise in self-defense by an officer under attack? Was it an overreaction for which Officer Wilson should suffer serious civil and criminal consequences? Such questions can only be answered by a thorough and fair investigation, the kind of due process owed to both the victim and the subject of the investigation — the kind that, as National Review’s editors point out, will be tough to mete out with political thumbs pressing on the scales.
Whatever the outcome, though, murder — including homicide caused by a policeman’s application of excessive force — is generally not a federal crime. It is a concern of state law. Only a few categories of murder are within the jurisdiction of federal investigators. In the main, they are far afield from Ferguson: the assassination of a U.S. government official, for instance, or a killing incidental to offenses that have interstate or international repercussions — racketeering, drug-trafficking, and terrorism.