Mar 06 2014
A test vote in the Senate to confirm President Obama’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, failed yesterday by a vote of 47 to 52. Seven Democrats joined Republicans to vote against Debo Adegbile, a senior counsel with the Senate Judiciary Committee, who had previously worked for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
Republicans launched a smear campaign against Adegbile saying that he had defended the controversial Black Panther, Mumia Abu Jamal, who is serving a sentence for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, and that that defense made him unfit to head the Civil Rights Division.
The Fraternal Order of Police and Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, issued statements strongly opposing the confirmation. But President Obama shot back saying, it was “a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
This is the first time that one of Obama’s nominees has been rejected since the Senate changed its rules last November to require only a simple majority on Presidential and non-Supreme Court judicial nominations. While yesterday’s vote was only a test count, it does put Adegbile’s nomination into jeopardy. Democratic Senator Harry Reid voted no at the last minute in order to be able to bring him up for a vote again in the future.
GUEST: Linn Washington, a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and a professor at Temple University. He worked alongside Mumia Abu-Jamal as a journalist in Philadelphia in the 70s and early 80s and wrote the book Black Judges on Justice: Perspectives from the Bench.
Click here to read Linn Washington’s article about Adegbile.