WASHINGTON — The Senate defeated President Barack Obama’s nominee to oversee the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division on Wednesday, with Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. voting yes and Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. voting no to confirm Debo Adegbile.
Adegbile failed to be approved on a vote of 47 (all Democrats) to 52 (Republicans plus seven Democrats). The no votes came in the wake of opposition to Adegbile’s assistance in the defense of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Obama issued a strong statement after Adegbile failed to win confirmation, calling it a “travesty.”
Said Obama, “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. Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable. 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. And Mr. Adegbile’s personal story – rising from adversity to become someone who President Bush’s Solicitor General referred to as one of the nation’s most capable litigators – is a story that proves what America has been and can be for people who work hard and play by the rules. As a lawyer, Mr. Adegbile has played by the rules. 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.”