In a major defeat for the Obama administration, the Senate voted 52 to 47 to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. Every Republican Senator opposed the effort, and they were joined by eight Democrats, including Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chris Coons of Delaware, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and John Walsh of Montana. Nevada’s Harry Reid joined his seven colleagues, but only to preserve his ability to reconsider the nomination late if necessary. Though the vote was close, the blocking of Adegbile’s nomination strikes a significant blow to the Obama administration’s attempt to further radicalize the already out-of-control Department of Justice.
Under Adegbile’s leadership and supervision, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF) undertook an unconscionable effort to politicize the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Faulkner was murdered on December 9, 1981 by Wesley Cook, a former Black Panther more familiarly known as “Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Abu-Jamal was also a supporter of “MOVE” a racist-anarchist group that encouraged violence against police officers. When Faulkner tried to arrest Abu-Jamal’s brother during a traffic stop, Abu-Jamal ran across the street and shot Faulkner in the back. Faulker turned and fired one shot, hitting Abu-Jamal in the chest before falling to the ground. Abu-Jamal then proceeded to shoot Faulkner four more times at close range, including once directly in the face. The murderer was still at the scene when officers arrived seconds later. The murder weapon, a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Abu-Jamal had purchased months earlier, was found at the scene.
Abu-Jamal was convicted in light of a mountain of evidence. Several eyewitness were on the scene, including Abu-Jamal’s brother, who has never testified to his innocence. Two hospital workers did testify, telling the court that Abu-Jamal told them, “I shot the motherf***er, and I hope the motherf***er dies.”
On July 2, 1982, a racially-mixed jury unanimously convicted Abu-Jamal. They sentenced him to death the next day after deliberating for just two hours. After hearing Abu-Jamal’s appeals, that verdict was upheld by Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on March 6, 1989.
The subsequent campaign to release Abu-Jamal, which Adegbile was a part of, was nothing less than an attempt by radical leftists to pervert and abuse the legal system to help get one of their fellow revolutionaries back on the street.
In 2009, the NAACP’s LDF, directed by Adegbile, began advocating for Abu-Jamal. A series of rallies and protests, accompanied by a media campaign, were put together to promote the idea that Abu-Jamal was a political prisoner. In 2011, the LDF took him on as a client. An LDF press release disseminated the same year contended that “Abu-Jamal is widely viewed as a symbol of the racial injustices of the death penalty.” It further noted that “Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination.” LDF lawyers even ginned up protests and rallies in France, where, in 2006, the city of St.-Denis had named a street after the cop-killer. That move was condemned in the House of Representatives by a vote of 368-to-31 with 8 voting present. (All 31 dissenting votes were cast by Democrats).
The LDF continued to press its campaign, characterizing Abu-Jamal as a victim of racism. Adegbile pursued that tack in several courts of law, where his arguments were ultimately rejected. One of the contentions Adegbile made during that time was contained in an amicus brief he and other LDF lawyers filed with the Supreme Court in 2009. It asserted that Abu-Jamal’s conviction was invalid because of racial discrimination in jury selection. Yet there were two black Americans on the jury, and Abu-Jamal himself took part in the selection process. There would have been a third black juror, but Abu-Jamal instructed his lawyer to strike him.
Former Justice Department civil rights lawyer J. Christian Adams succinctly summed up Adegbile’s tenure of leadership at the LDF. “When he ran the unit at the Legal Defense Fund, they took positions far outside of the mainstream of the law, far outside existing jurisprudence as it relates to race, and really advanced a fringe agenda,” he explained.
Nonetheless, far too many Democrats have circled the wagon on Adegbile, defending this egregious nomination. Democrats barred Daniel Faulkner’s widow Maureen from speaking before the committee. Before the vote, however, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey read from a letter from Faulkner to Senate lawmakers. “Today, as my husband lies 33 years in his grave, his killer has become a wealthy celebrity,” she wrote. “Old wounds have once again been ripped open, and additional insult is brought upon our law enforcement community in this country by President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile.”
Maureen Faulkner’s pleas aside, President Obama railed against rejection of Adegbile, calling the vote a “travesty.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused the GOP of racism, despite the slew of Democrats who rose to oppose the obscene nomination, which was also opposed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and Democratic Philadelphia Prosecutor Seth Williams.
The defeat was even more stinging because Adegbile only needed the support of 51 senators to advance his nomination to a final vote. That’s because Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” last November, reducing the threshold for a filibuster from 60 votes to 51, specifically to ease the approval of executive and judicial nominees. Vice President Joe Biden attended the session in case he was needed to break a tie, but he was rendered superfluous when seven Democrats defected. Tellingly, Adegbile’s rejection was the first one under the new rules — rules that Democrats have exploited to ram through more than 40 other nominees, including several who would have been rejected under the old threshold.
For the moment, the American people have been spared the appointment of another radical, race-obsessed leftist to a Justice Department already poisoned by corruption and fringe ideology. Adegbile’s career of legal abuse, extremism and attacks on civil rights make him unfit for any position of authority in the department. And despite both Reid and Obama’s contentions, his defeat would have been impossible without a handful of Democrats defecting from their radicalized brethren and deciding that having a cop-killer’s advocate running the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ was a bridge too far. It was.
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