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