The Senate rejected President Obama’s appointment of Debo Adegbile to a top civil rights post.
For weeks, Adegbile’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was under heavy contention. Opponents blocked Adegbile’s confirmation Wednesday amidst controversy surrounding his defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal when he served as head of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. The Washington Post reported:
[Seven Senate Democrats] joined with Republicans in voting against Debo Adegbile, whose nomination was adamantly and vocally opposed by conservatives due to his participation in an appeal filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal – an internationally-known prisoner convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
The vote was expected to be close — with Vice President Biden on hand to potentially cast a tie-breaking vote — but the final tally was 47-52 in opposition to the appointment.
Reid initially voted for Adegbile, but he switched his vote to no, giving him the right as Senate leader to bring up the nomination again at a later date.
Adegbile becomes the first Obama nominee rejected under the new Senate procedures approved in November that require just a majority of senators present to agree to proceed to a vote on most presidential nominees. Read more.
The Senate Democrats who opposed the nominee were: Christopher A. Coons (Del.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and John Walsh (Mont.).
Week ago, Roland Martin was joined on “NewsOne Now” by the Legal Defense & Educational Fund’s Sherrilyn Ifill to discuss Adegbile’s nomination and the controversy surrounding his defense of Abu-Jamal.
“We represented Mr. Abu-Jamal for the same reason the we represent many people who are criminal defendants, because we stand for the principle that every criminal defendant – especially in a capital case – is entitled to the full panoply of rights the Constitution affords them,” said Ifill. “We’re particularly solicitous of this in the context of the death penalty because of the very well documented racial disparities in the application of the death penalty.”
Ultimately, Ifill said examining Adegbile’s full career painted a clear picture of why he was a good candidate to head up the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
“He has argued in the Supreme Court. He’s regarded as one of the nation’s premiere voting rights attorneys. He did work here on behalf of residents of New Orleans in the post-Katrina aftermath. His career is, without question, one of a powerful, strong, committed civil rights lawyer and everything about his career suggests that in fact he’s perfect for this job,” said Adegbile.
Listen to Sherrilyn Ifill’s thoughts on Debo Adegbile’s nomination.