Senate rejection of Obama nominee troubling, chilling


The U.S. Senate rejected President Obama’s choice as the government chief civil rights attorney because he defended a cop killer in court.

That’s wrong.

Our judicial system hinges on the right to an attorney, who ensures those accused of crimes get a fair trial. Everyone has the right to an attorney, including those with no money and cop killers.

Yes, killers are revolting, but if they are denied an attorney, who is next?,

The Senate, with 44 Republicans and eight Democrats, rejected the nomination of Debo Adegbile.

The National Fraternal Order of Police lobbied against Adegbile for the post because of his advocacy of an appeal made by a man convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman.

“The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice,” Obama said.

It’s hard to argue, even if those words came from a politically polarizing figure like Obama.

Ironically, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts represented a Florida death-row inmate convicted of eight murders.

“During the course of their long careers, both John Roberts and Debo Adegbile each performed a vital constitutional service by representing an unpopular client on death row,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Roberts is now chief justice of the Supreme Court, but opponents of the Adegbile nomination twisted reality and resorted to some of the dirtiest attacks I’ve seen in my professional career.”

The Senate’s rejection of Adegbile could have a chilling effect. Lawyers who aspire to positions in a presidential administration might duck controversial cases so representing a despicable killer won’t ruin their chances.

The American Bar Association is appropriately concerned.

“Although lawyers work for their clients, their representation does not mean that they endorse their client’s views or actions,” said ABA President James R. Silkenat.

The Senate vote, although a somewhat minor event (except for Adegbile) in Washington, D.C., is nevertheless a chip off the foundation of freedom the nation was built on.

It’s a small chip, but years and years of chips can cause significant damage.


PearlY 1 year, 8 months ago

Fifty-two Senators voted against confirming Abegdile. The Democrats in that group probably did vote against him because of his impassioned and racially charged advocacy on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, but there were plenty of other reasons for Republicans to vote against him. The one that would have done it for me is that, in the position he was nominated for, he would have pursued the goal of suing employers who consider past felony convictions in employment.

Most felonies involve either a total failure of emotional control with serious consequences, or significant moral/character flaws centered on honesty or respect for others. I admire employers who, nevertheless, are willing to extend felons a chance to redeem themselves, but those who aren't willing to do that should not be punished with lawsuits and federal harassment because they aren't willing to take the risk.

Adegbile is a radical who cares nothing for the civil rights of most Americans. Putting him in charge of the Civil Rights Division would be re-defining "civil rights" to be the exact opposite.


NewInWW 1 year, 8 months ago

PearlY: "Most felonies involve either a total failure of emotional control with serious consequences, or significant moral/character flaws centered on honesty or respect for others."

Really? What about drug possession and street dealing felonies? Many recognize that our drug prosecution and sentencing policies disproportionately affect young black men. Why is it so terrible that the head of the civil rights division would seek to remedy some of that legal bias?

Your sweeping generalization concerning felons to support your position is just that: a sweeping generalization.


PearlY 1 year, 8 months ago

Sure, NewInWW, as an employer it would completely reassure me that I might be forced to hire a drug addict or someone willing to engage in a trade that routinely results in the ruthless murders of thousands of people in this country and others, instead of an armed robber, embezzler, rapist or barroom brawler who's killed someone in a drunken rage.

If disproportionate numbers of young black men are being locked up because they commit more crimes or more serious crimes, I have no problem with that. If they are locked up disproportionately while white offenders or older offenders or female offenders of similar depravity are let loose, the solution is to lock up more of the white offenders or older offenders or female offenders, not force employers to sacrifice themselves, their other employees and their businesses on the altar of social engineering. But I've seen no indication that Abegdile is interested in locking up more criminals.

If my sweeping generalization that felons are criminals and have committed crimes offends you, blame the dictionary.


NewInWW 1 year, 8 months ago

Thanks for the invitation, but, no, I blame your persistent sloppiness with language, facts and conclusions.


MyFamNews 1 year, 8 months ago

Pearly... Do you know how many felonies are on the books. All of them do not necessarily fit your definition. One example: An 18 yr old kid, walking on a railroad track, carrying his 22 rifle,( with a hunting license) arrested and charged with felony trespass with a fire arm. This particular felony was issued by BLM workers. That's how you criminalize every action. This particular example shows how easily a felony can impact a life, forever. We have way too many felonies that were once misdemeanors, and misdemeanors that were once considered mischief.


Igor 1 year, 8 months ago

This is not a response to PearlY or NewInWW. I'm trying to respond to the Editorial itself. Some day I may actually learn how to work my computer machine.

I agree with your editorials 95% of the time but I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. My first reaction to the opposition to the nomination of Debo was the same as yours, namely, that Adegbile should not be rejected simply because he defended a heinous cop-killer. Without zealous and competent defense attorneys for each accused, our justice system would be a sham.

However, the provision of a zealous and competent defense does not require that the attorney for the accused inject race-baiting politics into the trial. Adegbile turned our justice system on its head with his unfounded and unproven allegations of racism. This is the main reason why he was rejected, not because he defended a cop-killer.

I understand that some may call Adegbile’s unethical behavior legitimate trial tactics, but I disagree. The following excerpt from a letter to Obama from the National Fraternal Order of Police illustrates better than anything why the Senate, including, to their credit, a few Democrats, rejected Debo.

”We are aware of the tried and true shield behind which activists of Adegbile’s ilk are wont to hide — that everyone is entitled to a defense; but surely you would agree that a defense should not be based on falsely disparaging and savaging the good name and reputation of a lifeless police officer. Certainly any legal scholar can see the injustice and absence of ethics in this cynical race-baiting approach to our legal system.”

If the divisions between the races in our Country are ever to be healed they won’t be healed by people like Debo who, like so many of his supporters in our current Administration, want only to foment racial discord for political ends.


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