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Page 1 of the Washington Times reported the following by Stephen Dinan:
“Senators blocked President Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Wednesday in a bipartisan filibuster, with opponents saying his history defending a convicted cop-killer in the Supreme Court made him a poor choice.
“The defeat of Debo P. Adegbile, who as an attorney for the NAACP backed appeals by former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, is a major blow to Mr. Obama.”
This moves me to ask why on earth President Obama would ever have nominated such a controversial person to so high a position. And when this nominee was voted down, 52-47, why was the president so ill-tempered as to call this “a travesty solely based on his legal representation of a defendant and wildly unfair character attacks”?
Mumia Abu-Jamal was a killer in Pennsylvania who is still in prison, having been found guilty of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
Witnesses identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter. He was caught at the scene with the murder weapon. Lengthy appeals enabled him to avoid execution, claim innocence and become a pop-culture icon.
“The case remains a hot issue in Pennsylvania more than 30 years after the killing, and that helped rally opposition against Mr. Adegbile,” the Times continued.
“‘Today is a good day for Pennsylvania, for America, and for those who believe in justice,’ said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican. His fellow Pennsylvanian, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., a Democrat, also voted to filibuster Mr. Adegbile.
“‘Today the Senate affirmed that our criminal justice system must never be abused to propagate a dishonest, radical agenda,’ Mr. Toomey said. …
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the vote shows just how outside the mainstream the Adegbile pick was, given that Democrats couldn’t even muster their own members. …
“Mr. McConnell said Mr. Adegbile had a long history of ‘left-wing advocacy’ that would politicize the civil rights division. He said the nominee argued that it was ‘radical’ to think the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms and opposed voter identification requirements. …
“The seven Democrats who voted to filibuster Mr. Adegbile were Mr. Casey and Sens. Christopher A. Coons of Delaware, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas and John E. Walsh of Montana.
“Some Democrats who backed Mr. Adegbile are already facing political attacks from Republican challengers.
“Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, quickly issued a statement the title of which accused the senator of sending ‘a Message of Contempt to America’s Law Enforcement.’
“‘We know Senator Landrieu votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time. We didn’t know that even applies when it means voting for a nominee who supported a convicted and unrepentant cop-killer,’ he said.”
Sen. Coons, who won the seat vacated by Vice President Biden, commented:
“At a time when the Civil Rights Division urgently needs better relations with the law-enforcement community, I was troubled by the idea of voting for an assistant attorney general for civil rights who would face such visceral opposition from law enforcement on his first day on the job.”
Within hours, state Republican Party organizations began unloading. The New Hampshire GOP targeted Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a statement titled, “Shaheen votes for radical Obama nominee who defended unrepentant cop killer.”
The North Carolina Republican Party issued a statement saying, “Kay Hagan Votes for Extremist DOJ Nominee Who Helped Get a Convicted Cop Killer Off the Hook.”
Sen. Casey declared the following: “The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed 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.”
The Washington Post reported, “Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) noted that Adegbile is the first federal appointee whom the Fraternal Order of Police has vocally opposed in 17 years and called Faulkner’s killing ‘an act of unmatched brutality.’ Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) said Adegbile’s participation in the 2009 Abu-Jamal court filings ‘raised serious questions about his ability to fairly apply civil rights laws.’ And Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a tea party darling, described the NAACP’s work on behalf of Abu-Jamal as ‘extreme and radical advocacy, not legal representation.’
“In the longest of the four addresses – which included the reading of a letter from Faulkner’s widow – Toomey pleaded with Democratic senators to reject the nomination as a measure of respect for the officer.
“‘I agree that the justice system has failed,’ Toomey said as he stood next to a black-and-white photo of the Faulkners. ‘But it has failed officer Danny Faulkner and his family.’
“Further complicating the decision for vulnerable Senate Democrats is the support Adegbile’s nomination has received from the Congressional Black Congress and other civil rights organizations.”
And let me add what most Old Big Media organizations rarely, if ever, mention: The Congressional Black Caucus is a racially segregated group.
Media wishing to interview Les Kinsolving, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.