The Senate held a vote on Wednesday to confirm or reject President Obama's choice to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Seven Democrats joined the Republican caucus to defeat the nomination of Debo Adegbile by a 52-47 margin. Adegbile is an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and has argued several successful cases before the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cast a vote in oppposition as well which is a procedural tactic that will allow the vote to be held again. President Obama had harsh words following the vote and called the rejection of such a qualified attorney a travesty.
Obama's statement was:
"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. "Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable."
The purported reason for the oposition to Adegbile was his involvement in argueing for convicted cop killer Mamia Abu-Jamal being taken off death row and receiving a life sentence for the killing.
Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said:
"Adegbile was attacked because the NAACP Legal Defense Fund became counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal during his tenure here," said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP LDF. "The NAACP Legal Defense Fund's involvement in Mumia Abu-Jamal's case reflects its institutional commitment to ensuring that the criminal justice system is administered fairly and in compliance with the U.S. Constitution for all Americans, no matter how controversial."
President Obama was concerned about the reasoning behind the opposition stating that rejecting a qualified appointment for doing what is legally expected of an attorney is setting a dangerous precedence for the legal system in this country.