Justice Served

Senate rejects Debo Adegbile as chair of DOJ Civil Rights Division

Debo Adegbile

Debo Adegbile / AP


The Obama administration said on Wednesday that it was outraged over the Senate’s rejection of a judicial nominee who has come under fire for defending a cop killer.

Debo Adegbile, a lawyer who defended Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, had been nominated by Obama to chair the Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

However, the Senate rejected his nomination on Wednesday, leading Obama to lash out at lawmakers and affirm that Adegbile’s "qualifications are impeccable."

"The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

Senators said they had rejected Adegbile’s nomination due to his past work defending Abu-Jamal, who murdered a Philadelphia police officer and is now serving life in prison.

"Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable," Obama said in his statement. "He represents the best of the legal profession, with wide-ranging experience, and the deep respect of those with whom he has worked."

"His unwavering dedication to protecting every American’s civil and Constitutional rights under the law—including voting rights—could not be more important right now," Obama said.

Adegbile’s defense of a cop killer shows that he "has played by the rules," according to Obama’s statement.  "And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him."

"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—and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant," Obama said.

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