Rejecting Adegbile, Senate mocks the US Constitution

  • Sharebar


Last week, the floor of the U.S. Senate was the scene of a bi-partisan travesty, an affront to the principals of the Constitution, an assault on the notion of American exceptionalism. With the help of several Democrats, Republicans refused to confirm Debo P. Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
The GOP’s resistance was expected since its senators oppose every nominee the president puts forward. But this time, Adegbile’s new job was torpedoed because a handful of Democrats stepped forward to help launch the explosives. They found objections in Adegbile’s resume, despite his impeccable credentials, sterling reputation and years of advocacy in the causes associated with civil rights.
Indeed, it is precisely that advocacy that led to the assault on his qualifications. His alleged misstep? Adegbile, a lawyer, was tangentially involved in filing a court challenge on behalf of a former Black Panther named Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Adegbile was litigation director for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when it filed a brief contesting the jury-sentencing instructions, an argument which resulted in commutation of Abu-Jamal’s sentence from death to life in prison in 2012.
That process is embedded in decades of case law. Defense attorneys are supposed to vigorously represent accused criminals — no matter the crimes with which they have been charged, no matter their guilt or innocence, no matter how radical their demeanor or vile their behavior — especially in capital cases.
Among the people who ought to understand that is Philadelphia’s senior Democratic senator, Bob Casey. If he had any decency, any gumption, any courage, Casey would have helped to smooth Adegbile’s path.
He would have noted that American justice rests on the idea that each person stands equally before the bar, a credo that cannot be upheld without defense attorneys for the accused. The senator might have pointed out that in the U.S. Armed Forces, even the most heinous criminals are represented by competent defense counsel. And he might have reminded Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police that Adegbile did not spare Abu-Jamal’s life. A federal court did so because it agreed that instructions to the jury were unconstitutional.
Instead, Casey led the Democratic opposition.
He explained his refusal to support the nominee with this statement: “I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime. (But) it is important … citizens … have full confidence in their public representatives – both elected and appointed. The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the City of Philadelphia.”
That statement is confusing, contradictory and just plain dumb. Casey will ignore the system of law because of the awful grief borne by Maureen Faulkner? I cannot begin to imagine what her family has endured since her husband was gunned down just before his 25th birthday, but we don’t allow the anguish of families to dictate justice. If we did, they could serve as jurors, judges and executioners. But that wouldn’t be any different from a lynch mob, would it?
Similarly, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) explained his stick-in-the eye to Adegbile by speaking of the pain endured by the Faulkner family, even while acknowledging that “an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client.” That wasn’t as outlandish as the rhetoric from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who claimed that Adegbile was “seeking to glorify an unrepentant cop-killer,” but it was a non sequitur.
In this shameful episode, the person who best represented American values was Adegbile, the son of a Nigerian father and an Irish immigrant mother. He clearly puts more faith in the fundamental principals of his homeland than the 52 senators who voted against him.

Comments

  1. Jim says:

    CT…it is quite clear you, Barack H Obama and possibly Mr. Adegbile fail to see the message and pressure the AMERICAN public is putting on OUR elected officials. The “shameful episode” you speak of is government. Not only is it government, it is government with consequences! A word I am sure just made you sick to your stomach.
    You stated Senator Casey’s statement was “just plain dumb” end quote. How so? Why is it so far out there (dumb) to consider why Mr. Adegbile would accept such a position with the most racial group in the United Staes? Furthermore why do we need a civil rights division of the justice department when we have you, BHO and Adegbile to watch out for these under privileged, OMG give me something free, Black Panther cop killers of the US. Note: only in the US are these individuals protected better than your regular go to work citizen
    Suggestion #1….let Adegbile represent him again with the correct terminology so the jurors can put him to death so we don’t have to pay for him!!!
    Suggestion #2…this is most important, write about a subject you can sound smart and not so racist in.

    Jim

  2. Paul says:

    I’ll begin by commenting on this one particular opinion piece by Ms. Tucker. First, let me say that of all her editorials, I have yet to read any comments that are in agreement. I don’t know how she won a Pulitzer, unless for spelling her name or some such liberal nonsense. Kind of like giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. He chastises Bush for water boarding; I don’t recall any collateral damage as a result of the three, I believe, maybe less, terrorists who experienced the practice. It is a fact, however, that the Peace Prize winner has, through his drone strikes, racked up some considerable number of collateral DEATHS of innocent civilians. Any comment, Ms. Tucker? Or are you just blind to that? ( As Jim makes clear above: write about that of which you might appear smart, and stop being so racist, as is Obama.) . Which brings me to the crux of the editorial and this comment. You speak of the affront to the Constitution by the GOP. You certainly can’t be serious considering what Obama has done to it. Where is you outrage? I doubt you or any of your kind has the courage, honesty, intelligence, or civil and moral backbone to see this. Same for Obama. Your blind allegiance to the man provides a glimpse of how Hitler was able to take advantage of the mindset of the German people and wreak the havoc he did on the civilized world. In your case, however, you call anyone who questions the competence of Obama racist.

    P. S. Regarding your editorial on immigration. Interesting that you seemed to omit one key word/adjective. My ancestors and those of their generation didn’t have the word “ILLEGAL” attached to their status.

Speak Your Mind

*