Senate defeats Obama in Justice nod

Published: Thursday, March 6 2014 10:05 a.m. MST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., leaves the Senate floor on Capitol in Washington, in this Wednesday, March 5, 2014 file photo, after President Barack Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's civil rights division failed a Senate test vote and put the confirmation of Debo Adegbile in jeopardy. His spokesman Adam Jentleson accompanies at right.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

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President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was rejected by Senate Democrats on March 5, the New York Times reported.

It was a 47-52 vote in which seven Democrats “abandoned” their leadership and evaded pressure from the White House.

The New York Times reported that Obama’s nominee, Debo P. Adegbile, was the litigation director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund when it represented Mumia Abu-Jamal who brutally murdered a Philadelphia police officer more than a decade ago.

The Senate decided that being a lawyer disqualifies nominees from garnering a legal post, according to the Huffington Post.

“The U.S. Senate is now judging attorneys based on their representation of politically unpopular clients,” the article said. In other words, the Senate decided that Adegbile was guilty by association.

Others say it was the right decision.

The “Senate rightly rejects Adegbile for Justice post,” according to a Washington Times editorial.

The editorial said Obama called the vote a “travesty” and that Adegbile “was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant.”

But “Mr. Obama knows that Abu Jamal was not just any client, but a killer whose guilt was never in doubt,” the editorial states. “The president should have been aware of the politics in his appointment.”

This was the first time a Democrat nominee was defeated since lawmakers changed Senate rules to make it easier to push through judges and executive branch candidates, The Hill reported.

And rightfully so, says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"The nominee inserted his office in an effort to turn reality on its head, impugn honorable and selfless law enforcement officers, and glorify an unrepentant cop killer,” The Hill quoted McConnell as saying. “This is not required by our legal system. On the contrary, it is noxious to it.”

Erik Raymond is experienced in national and international politics. He relocated from the Middle East where he was working on his second novel. He produces content for DeseretNews.com. You can reach him at:



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