Senate Dem to oppose Mumia-defender Obama appointee

Last year, Harry Reid invoked the nuclear option in the Senate in order to get Barack Obama’s appointees confirmed over Republican opposition. His latest appointee might be doomed anyway. Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) announced on Friday that he will oppose the confirmation of Debo Adegbile to run the Civil Rights Division at Justice on account of Adegbile’s activism for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal:


Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said Friday he will vote against Senate confirmation of Debo Adegbile, an Obama administration nominee who has been criticized for his role in trying to overturn the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

Casey is believed to be the first Congressional Democrat to publicly oppose the nomination, which is set for a key procedural vote Monday.

Adegbile has been picked to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, but he has faced stiff opposition from Pennsylvania Republicans due to his role in the charged Abu-Jamal case. Adegbile, as part of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, supervised a team in 2009 that represented Abu-Jamal before the Supreme Court as  he sought to have his death sentence overturned. …

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) have vocally opposed Adegbile’s nominaton. So has District Attorney Seth Williams, a Democrat.

The procedural vote to proceed on Adegbile’s confirmation has been postponed due to inclement weather today in Washington DC, but could come up as soon as tomorrow. The widow of the police officer murdered by Abu-Jamal has started a petition to keep Adegbile from winning confirmation to the position:

Maureen Faulkner, whose husband, Daniel, was a Philadelphia police officer shot to death by black radical Mumia Abu-Jamalduring a traffic stop, has started a petition at asking senators to vote against President Obama’s nomination of attorney Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Adegbile, as a former head of the Legal Defense Fund for the NAACP, was one of Abu-Jamal’s top lawyers. In 2012, Jamal’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after a lengthy legal battle and three decades gushing, liberal attention.

Faulkner’s petition accuses Adegbile of benefiting from Abu-Jamal’s death-row-celebrity status.

“Attorneys working under Mr. Adegbile’s supervision have stood before rallies of Abu-Jamal supporters and openly professed that it was ‘an extreme honor’ to represent the man who put a hollow based bullet into Officer Faulkner’s brain as he lay on the ground wounded, unarmed, and defenseless,” the petition states.


The issue here is whether Adegbile was a lawyer representing a client or an activist on behalf of a murderer. Faulkner’s testimony makes it clear that his legal team seemed to think of themselves as the latter. Plus, the Abu-Jamal case wasn’t about civil rights at all, but a dispute over the death penalty and its application in this case — when states almost always apply it when available to the murder of law-enforcement officials.

The question in this case is whether Casey’s colleagues in the Senate will be swayed by united, bipartisan home-state opposition to a nominee from this White House. Normally, that would be enough to torpedo an appointment, forcing the White House to look elsewhere for a less-controversial choice. However, Harry Reid didn’t blow up the Senate just to lose a high-profile appointment, either. That puts Casey’s fellow Democrats in a big vise, and gives Republicans lots of ammunition to argue that Reid’s change was to enable confirmations of radicals rather than smooth the process for supportable nominees. If Democrats want to have that argument available to them, then perhaps they should line up behind Casey here and deny Adegbile a Justice platform for his activism.

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