Debo Adegbile, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, withdrew his name from consideration Monday, unable to overcome a bipartisan Senate filibuster.
The move comes after senators failed to advance Adegbile’s nomination last March on a 47-52 procedural vote in which seven Democrats – including Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., - voted against him.
News of Adegbile’s withdrawal coincides with the announcement that he’s joining Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, a private law firm. He will work in the firm’s Litigation/Controversy Department in New York.
‘Debo Adegbile is an exceptional attorney who will bring a wealth of experience and good judgment to private practice,’ said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Adegbile was senior counsel to the committee. ‘I appreciate the wise counsel he provided to me and my staff on a wide variety of complex legal issues. I wish him continued success.’
Lawmakers in both parties expressed unease about Adegbile’s nomination because of his involvement as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
The legal defense fund was successful in convincing a federal court not to reinstate the death penalty imposed initially on Abu-Jamal.
The case became a high-profile affair that many on the political left and within the African-American community said exposed racism within Philadelphia’s police department. Those on the right said the trial showed Abu-Jamal was nothing more than a radicalized, cold-blooded cop-killer.
Faulkner’s widow and the Fraternal Order of Police railed against Adegbile’s nomination. His supporters, including Obama, said it was unfair to block the nomination of a lawyer for representing his client.
Some Republicans made Adegbile’s nomination a campaign issue. Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who moved to New Hampshire and is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, issued a statement on Adegbile’s withdrawal Monday that took a swipe at his opponent and Obama.
‘His controversial representation of a convicted cop killer is offensive to law enforcement and victim’s rights groups, not only here in New Hampshire but around the country,’ Brown said in a statement. ‘Just as troubling as President Obama’s nomination of Mr. Adegbile was Senator Shaheen’s support of it.’