Senate Democrats fail to support Debo Adegbile for DOJ post

March 5, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Good afternoon:

Senate Democrats failed to support President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to replace Thomas Perez as the man in charge of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The position opened up after Evans was confirmed as the new Secretary of Labor.

Adegbile is a highly regarded lawyer who did what I would minimally demand from any candidate who wants to lead the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. He stood up for the civil rights of an unpopular person named Mumia Abu-Jamal after a jury had convicted and sentenced him to death in 1982 for killing Dennis Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer.

Appearing as a friend of the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in the Abu-Jamal case in 2009, when he was the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he persuaded the Court to aside the death sentence because the jury was racially prejudiced. The SCOTUS agreed and remanded the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Adegbile joined the defense team at the resentencing and participated in the successful effort to obtain a life without parole sentence (LWOP).

Politifact reports today,

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., co-authored a ludicrous op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams on Feb. 24 that said Adegbile was not fit for the post because he attempted to “seize on (the Abu-Jamal) case and turn it into a political platform from which to launch an extreme attack on the justice system.”

I am not surprised that a Republican would mischaracterize actions in defense of a defendant’s civil rights in a death penalty case as an attempt “to launch an extreme attack on the justice system.” For many years Republicans have resorted to deceptions of every sort to frustrate and discourage minorities and young people from voting. If they had their way, they would deny them the right to vote. Despite overwhelming evidence that racism is alive and thriving in this country, they deny that it exists and proclaim every person, who speaks out in defense of civil liberties, to be a racist.

I concluded long ago that Republicans are racists who oppose civil rights.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joined with the Republicans to vote against Adegbile.

He released a statement today before the vote explaining why he decided to vote against Adegbile.

I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime.

At the same time, it is important that we ensure that Pennsylvanians and citizens across the country have full confidence in their public representatives — both elected and appointed. The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the city of Philadelphia. After carefully considering this nomination and having met with both Mr. Adegbile as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, I will not vote to confirm the nominee.”

In other words, he thinks it’s OK to utter platitudes about civil rights, so long as a person does not actually do anything to protect those rights.

The Senate rejected Adegbile this morning by a vote of 52-47.

I was disgusted with the Senate before this vote and I remain disgusted with it after the vote.

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