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Pierce writes: "I'd like to congratulate the Democratic caucus in the United States Senate for once again putting its collective balls in a thimble and hurling it into the Potomac."

Debo Adegbile. (photo: AP)
Debo Adegbile. (photo: AP)

The Senate Democrats Chicken Out in Nominating Debo Adegbile

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

06 March 14


'd like to congratulate the Democratic caucus in the United States Senate for once again putting its collective balls in a thimble and hurling it into the Potomac.

Along with Reid, the Democratic votes against Adegbile were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), John Walsh (Mont.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.).

Pat Leahy, who is not a opportunistic stooge like Manchin, or a Lieberman-in-training like Heitkamp, brought up an interesting point that did not, of course, matter a damn.

Reid and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) brought up the fact that Republicans supported Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's nomination despite his representation of a murderer who killed eight people, including a teenager.

I wonder what the difference is.

Oh, yeah. John Roberts is white and murdered teenagers don't have a lobby.

Among the seven cowards, Pryor, Coons and Walsh are up for election this fall, and Coons's seat is as safe as it can possibly be, The other four don't have to run again for another two years, and they still hit the silk. I'm sure the bookers on Morning Joe already have them all on speed dial. Bipartisanship!

Coons was particularly weaselish. He thought Debo Adegbile was qualified, and he loves him some Sixth Amendment protections, but Chris Coons was annoyed by fundraisers and that's the way that goes,

The decades-long public campaign by others, however, to elevate a heinous, cold-blooded killer to the status of a political prisoner and folk hero has caused tremendous pain to the widow of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and shown great disrespect for law enforcement officers and families throughout our region. These factors have led me to cast a vote today that is more about listening to and respecting their concerns than about the innate qualifications of this nominee.


The Republicans in the Senate do not want anyone in the job for which Debo Adegbile was nominated -- Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights -- because they'd all prefer that particular division of the Justice Department simply go away. After all, for example, they'd rather not have the Justice Department look too closely at voter suppression in the various states. And they've hated this position for generations; it was for the same office that Bill Clinton nominated Lani Guinier in 1993, only to chicken out in the face of similar pressure. The Mumia case was this year's "quota queen." And, of course, it is all About Race, even though it can't be About Race because nothing ever is About Race. your social media marketing partner


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-64 # Rain17 2014-03-06 14:22
Obama should have vetted this nominee better. Mumia Abu-Jamal is a convicted cop killer. Did he honestly think that nominating someone who represented a cop killer was a good idea?

The difference between Adegbile and Roberts is that, while both represented murders, the latter didn't represent a cop killer. And that just conjures the most visceral reactions.

However anyone feels about the Mumia case--I personally think that, even though his trial had issues, he did kill Officer Faulkner--I think that Obama made a mistake in nominating anyone connected to that case to that position. Did he honestly think that the nomination would pass the Senate without any complication?

I have to believe that there were many other qualified Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights candidates who didn't have the political baggage of representing a cop killer. Nominating Adegbile was just asking for trouble.
+29 # tedrey 2014-03-06 18:22
None of which affects the article's point that these senators showed no respect for either the nominee's actual legal qualifications nor for their own responsibility to allow reasonable appointments.
+28 # Regina 2014-03-06 19:18
EVERY accused person has the right -- so far! -- to competent defense. If he or she loses that case, the accused at least must know that the best possible defense had taken place in that trial. To punish an excellent attorney by hindsight politicking is unprofessional behavior on the part of those weaseling senators.
-14 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:44
I'm not debating the point that everyone has the "right to competent defense". And I do commend lawyers who take unpopular clients and cases. But doing so is counterproducti ve to being nominated to a political appointment. That Adigbile didn't win his confirmation battle surprises me.

Did you all really expect the Senate to approve an attorney who represented a convicted cop killer to get confirmed? It should not be rocket science to realize that such a nominee, even if he had the best of intentions, would would encounter significant problems.

Would you all feel the same if Adigbile had represented Michael Dunn or George Zimmerman even if he had a significant record of accomplishment in the area of civil rights law? Why do I have a feeling that the reaction here would be different?
0 # hoodwinkednomore 2014-03-12 10:31
He NEVER would have reperesented these two murderers, Zimmerman and Dunn....
+17 # ericlipps 2014-03-06 19:22
The thing is, in this country even those accused and clearly guilty of heinous crimes are entitled to competent legal representation. A lawyer who refuses to provide it because representing so-and-so might look bad on his C.V. does his profession and his country no favor.
-15 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:45
Everyone has the right to a strong defense, but that doesn't mean that an attorney has to take every client who wants his/her services. How would you feel if, instead of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Adigbile had represented George Zimmeran or Michael Dunn?
+16 # economagic 2014-03-06 21:48
No one here seems to be noticing that Rain Man has deflected the conversation from racism, where it began, to his personal opinion about the guilt (or possible innocence) of Mumia, which to say the least is open to debate, and to Obama's political acumen, which one might see as pretty acute depending on where one believes his loyalties lie.

--67 YO white guy
+49 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-03-06 14:31
Have to disagree Rain 17. Serious doubt about Mumia's guilt. more importantly, Republicans don't "weenie" out on their nominees. Remember BORK (couldn't keep his foot out of his mouth. Thomas (totally unqualified), Roberts, who shepherded Bush v. Gore through the Supreme Court as a lawyer and swore he "wouldn't legislate from the bench". HAHAHAHA. Sorry, but the Democrats are just plain WEENIES.
-43 # Rain17 2014-03-06 14:49
I'm sorry but Mumia killed that police officer. I do agree that the trial may not have been fair, but it is likely that he killed Officer Faulkner.

The most fair analysis is from this American Lawyer article from 1995:

I think that his trial may not have been fair, but he is likely guilty.

And I do think Obama should have picked a nominee not connected to this case. There was no way in H#ll that the Senate was going to vote for the nomination of a convicted cop killer.

I just find it hard to believe that there weren't qualified nominees who were not connected to this case.
+42 # hkatzman 2014-03-06 15:30
Quoting Rain17:
There was no way in H#ll that the Senate was going to vote for the nomination of a convicted cop killer.

No one has accused Adegbile of being a cop killer. This is purely guilt-by-association.

Whatever abu-Jamal may have been accused and convicted for, does he not -- like all of us -- deserve 'his day in court' and does he not deserve decent counsel to help him make his case? If you were indicted on some horrible heinous crime, would you not want a lawyer to help you make your case? Do we want a system where ambitious lawyers would not represent controversial cases for fear of preventing career advancement?
-35 # Rain17 2014-03-06 16:14
Sorry that was a typo on my part. I meant to type "There was no way in H#ll that the Senate was going to vote for the nomination of an attorney who represented a cop killer".

Abu-Jamal did have the right to a fair trial and representation. I agree that he has the right to due process. But Adigbile doesn't have the right to a political appointment either.
+23 # Anarchist 23 2014-03-06 16:43
Rain 17:'likely guilty' does not cut it. There were serious flaws in the trial and the evidence. Apparently you don't find that a barrier to Roberts being confirmed as one of the Supremes as mentioned in the article.
+15 # ericlipps 2014-03-06 19:24
There's no way in H#ll Republicans are going to vote for ANY Obama nominee they haven't jammed down his throat.
+41 # curmudgeon 2014-03-06 14:53
Let us be more honest...racism is alive and well.

All the talk about who or what was defended is a smokescreen behind which individuals cowered.

I could be wrong but it seems that many folks could not stand the sight of a competent, courageous black attorney in that office. Based on his history he would more likely be in their minds 'uppity' unlike Holder's Un....'go along' obeisance to his betters.
-17 # Rain17 2014-03-06 14:58
What I find funny is the complete disconnect between the far left and the far right. It's funny how so many people here attack Holder and Obama, yet the far right considers them both "anti-American communists who hate this country".
+16 # Anarchist 23 2014-03-06 16:46
The far right does not even understand what a communist is, or they would have to conclude that Obama's support for Wall Street and big business is more of the Fascist persuasion. The USSA has almost always preferred the 'F' word.
+28 # jsluka 2014-03-06 14:59
I believe this thread of negative comments is mainly racist. I'm sorry, but all the white commentators are going to be wrong on this; they ALL PRESUME that the black man accused of cop killing MUST BE GUILTY. But the fact is that Mumia is INNOCENT. Notice that there are few, if any comments, brom black Americans on this post - and I suspect they, generally, have a very different view on the "facts" surrounding the celebrated case of Mumia Abu Jamal.
-23 # Rain17 2014-03-06 15:07
Is it at all possible that is both guilty and received an unfair trial? And if you think he is innocent, who do you think killed Officer Faulkner?
+14 # Regina 2014-03-06 19:23
It wasn't the candidate under consideration by the Senate. Since when do we spread the sins of a criminal onto his attorney?
-8 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:47
When that criminal is a cop killer and when that attorney is being nominated for a political appointment. Did you all really think that a lawyer who represented a cop killer would have an easy confirmation?
-1 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:01
Do you get paid to troll for establishment Democrats on this site? If not, you're missing out on a goldmine.
+12 # bmiluski 2014-03-06 15:27
I think your statement that all the white commentators are going to be wrong on this is racist. You based your comment on the color of someone's skin. That's racist.
+11 # EternalTruth 2014-03-06 16:44
Fwiw: I believe Mumia is innocent. I'm "white". Years ago I spent a lot of time reading about this case, and was convinced of his innocence.

According to you, I am wrong on this: "all the white commentators are going to be wrong on this".

Am I wrong when I agree with you, because I am white? If two people hold identical opinions, can one be wrong, and one right, because of skin color?

I agree with the general idea that whites are more likely to believe in the guilt of blacks based merely on racist stereotypes, but your blanket condemnation of the opinions of all white people is patently racist (regardless of what race you are).
-21 # Rain17 2014-03-06 14:59
And why am I getting negative ratings for voicing an opinion that others here don't agree with? I thought that intent behind the negative ratings system was to go after comments that were rude and disrespectful.
+14 # tedrey 2014-03-06 18:25
Really. I always thought the intent was precisely to agree or disagree with the opinions raised. I certainly don't use a thumbs-up to indicate that I thought a comment was particularly respectful.
+1 # nice2bgreat 2014-03-06 19:04
It seems to me that the thumbs of approval and disapproval are to show (anonymously) which team you're on.

If it is to agree or disagree, wouldn't people spell out their differences of opinion and write as much?

No, the clicks of the thumbs are usually contempt towards those with whom they disagree or prideful affirmations of affiliation.
-8 # maddave 2014-03-06 19:01
Rain 17: You want "rude & disrespectful"?
OK! You currently have "rude and disrespectful" in the form of nine rude & disrespectful red thumbs down.

This is no forum for free-thinking non-conformists , Rain.
+1 # bmiluski 2014-03-07 10:33
Well if this isn't a forum for free-thinking non-conformists then please leave. Or better yet, try posting some of your nonsense on a conservative blog. You'll be happy to receive JUST a thumbs up/down.
Oh wait after reading some of your posts I realize that you'd be very welcome there.
0 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:03
Actually, this is no forum for buttlicking Democratic Party loyalists and defenders of the indefensible. Rain17 is an expert on both counts.
+7 # Majikman 2014-03-06 21:33
Quoting Rain17:
I thought that intent behind the negative ratings system was to go after comments that were rude and disrespectful.

If you move your cursor to the green thumb, it says "agree" --the red, "disagree".
Get it?
-20 # dick 2014-03-06 15:17
Remarkably STUPID nomination, by White House that can't even be bothered to count Dem votes. Self destructive self indulgence.
-23 # Rain17 2014-03-06 15:18
My point exactly. Others here don't seem to get that point.
+47 # fenox 2014-03-06 15:32
Strange exchange of comments. Lawyers have to defend anyone accused . That's their job as to the laws of the nation. So why accuse an ex-lawyer of doing job because you disliked his client.
Ridiculous. In what century do you live?
-15 # Rain17 2014-03-06 15:55
I live in the 21st century. And yes lawyers defend their clients.

I'll put the question this way. Do you think a Republican President would nominate Mark O'Meara, the attorney who defended George Zimmerman, to a judgeship or a job in the Justice Department? And do you think that the Senate would vote for his nomination?

Lawyers pick their clients and the cases they work with. Adegbile made the choice to represent him in the appeal. If he wanted to receive a political appointment he probably should have exercised more discretion.

It's great that there are lawyers out there who take on unpopular clients. But they also have to realize that taking on unpopular clients, defendants, and cases is likely to create problems later down the road if they want to get a political appointment to a judgeship or in the Justice Department.

Is it fair? No not at all, but that's how the political system works. And no Senator facing a difficult reelection race is going to support a "lawyer who represented a cop killer". That's the brutal reality.
+15 # Anarchist 23 2014-03-06 16:52
so the only way to get ahead is keep your nose clean, trim your principles to the prevailing wind, and purvey only the 'accepted' truth, which in the 21st Century seems to be "Muslims are evil" , there is a war against Christmas and other things...just like slavery was morally right according to the bible back in 19th century and in no way were women qualified to vote...wholly admirable POV.
+4 # nice2bgreat 2014-03-06 19:06
That about sums up my view of Rain17's expressed views.

Trim those principles to the prevailing wind.

Practical to a fault.


I am reminded of the line in "I Robot."

"My logic is undeniable."
"My logic is undeniable."
"My logic is undeniable."
-4 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:48
We don't live in an ideal world. And yes, if a lawyer does want a political appointment, he/she has to be selective in the cases he/she takes. Is this fair? No, but we don't live in an ideal world.
+3 # nice2bgreat 2014-03-07 05:31
You have answers for everything.

Good ones?


But answers, none the less.
+2 # bmiluski 2014-03-07 10:35
George H bush nominated Clarence Thomas.
+24 # sce 2014-03-06 16:02
Particularly because Adegbile simply defended commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment for Jamal, as the SCOTUS had determined that that reevaluation of sentencing was required.
+26 # NoRoadKill 2014-03-06 15:44
The American Judicial System stipulates, in theory, that everyone is entitled to the due process of the law. Whether someone has been accused and subsequently found guilty of murder, rape or other heinous crimes, they are entitled to legal representation. If one cannot afford an attorney, then the court will assign one. What is there about a lawyer providing legal representation to one whom has been accused and convicted of murder would make that same lawyer be unfit to be an assistant US Attorney General FOR CIVIIL RIGHTS?
-19 # Rain17 2014-03-06 16:16
You miss the point. I am sure that Adigbile was qualified for the job. It's the baggage that comes along with him that sunk the nomination.

It's great that there are lawyers out there who take on unpopular clients and cases. That there are such lawyers out there is commendable. But those lawyers taking on such clients have got to realize that their representation is likely to create problems for them if they want political appointments.

It's not fair or right, but that is how it goes. Did you really expect the Senate to support an attorney who represented a convicted cop-killer in his appeals?
+13 # Anarchist 23 2014-03-06 16:54
Rain 17: to quote Hugh Jackman's character in the movie 'Australia': "Just because that is the way it is does not mean that is the way it should be." But that is apparently good enough for you.
-3 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:49
But I don't pretend to live in an ideal world. I choose to deal with the world as it is, not as I want it to be.
+1 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:10
No. You choose to live in the world that you allow Democrats, through your complicity, to get away with this cowardice. Just a few more Democrats voting AYE and Adigbile would have been confirmed regardless of what the Republicans had to say. But 7 cowards said no. And there you are along with, no doubt, the rest of the OFA party loyalists to once again make excuses for the inexcusable.

It is little wonder that progressives get nowhere with today's Democratic Party.
+9 # maddave 2014-03-06 19:09
You miss the point. I am sure that Adigbile was qualified for the job. It's the baggage that comes along with him that sunk the nomination.

Wrong, Rain!

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with Adigbile's baggage. He is clean!

It is entirely due to all of the nay-saying conservative Senators and exacerbated by the not-so-latent racism of twelve crypto-TeaBagge rs who are masquerading as Democrats.

We just do not need people like that representing us!
-5 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:50
Yes there was baggage. Adigbile represented a convicted cop killer. And you all don't understand why that suddenly became an issue with those Senators who voted no?
+32 # neddycat 2014-03-06 16:20
May I also point out that John Adams represented a British soldier accused of taking part in the Boston Massacre, because he thought the man deserved representation. He and his family were shunned for some time, but he did what he thought he was right. I find it interesting that the right-wingers slavishly idolize the Founding Fathers, but seem to misunderstand everything they wrote and stood for.
-22 # Rain17 2014-03-06 16:23
That was a much different time than now.
+4 # RHytonen 2014-03-07 09:29
Quoting Rain17:
That was a much different time than now.

But SHOULD it be?
+19 # sce 2014-03-06 15:59
Obama should have vetted him better?!
That's the determination?
Perhaps he did every sort of ACTUAL "vetting" required to see that when Adegbile took the job as the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the case, as directed by the Supreme Court of the United States, was ongoing as to a reevaluation of instructions given to the jury in their original sentencing of a death sentence for the defendant.
Adegbile neither appeared in court on Jamal's behalf, nor wrote any briefs for him. He also didn't pursue an overturning of the conviction.
Perhaps when you assess that a defendant did not get a fair trial, you can further understand that that taints any death sentence imposed on that defendant. Adegbile took a job and served his role.
But the Senators (who can be almost certainly assured of knowing next-to-nothing about the Jamal case other than the headlines which say "Cop-Killer!" and "Philadelphia") just admitted that they "couldn't support any lawyer with ties to that case". No matter what those wafer-thin "ties" may have been.
This got shot down because it's an election-year, and the title NAACP backed a bunch of mealy politicians into a defensive crouch. They are the ones who gave next-to-zero-at tention to "vetting".
-15 # Rain17 2014-03-06 16:12
I didn't say it was "fair". I'll put this question out like I did in the reply above:

Do you think a Republican President would nominate Mark O'Meara, the attorney who defended George Zimmerman, to a judgeship or a position in the Justice Department? Do you think the Senate would approve him?

The answer would be no because that nomination would also fail. It's great that attorneys take on unpopular clients cases, but doing so isn't conducive to getting a political appointment in the Justice Department either. Adegbile took on the Mumia case and worked on his appeal, but he had to know that it would cause him problems later if he ever wanted to get a political appointment.

Is it fair? No, not at all. But when taking on unpopular clients and cases those lawyers must know that it's not conducive to getting a political appointment later.
0 # RHytonen 2014-03-07 09:31
Quoting Rain17:
I didn't say it was "fair". I'll put this question out like I did in the reply above:

Do you think a Republican President would nominate Mark O'Meara, the attorney who defended George Zimmerman, to a judgeship or a position in the Justice Department?

Only if he failed to be elected after they nominated him for President.
+2 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:18
Of course they would. Republicans have proven over and over again that they will nominate whoever they damn please and they will jam that person down our throats with the help of cowardly Democrats, just as we witnessed throughout the Bush years. How else did we end up with right wing activists and liars like Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court.

Going back even further, how did we end up with Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most incompetent and conflicted jurist in my lifetime?

I guarantee you if Republicans were in the majority and they felt inclined to nominate Mark O'Meara, they would do it in an instant, then they would tell the Democrats to jump, and the Democrats would ask "how high"?

And Rain17 would be all over this site telling us how the Democrats had no other choice. They had to be pragmatic. The Republicans have a mandate. We have to respect that. Remember those days, Rain? Wasn't all that long ago.
+1 # Rain17 2014-03-08 13:47
Actually I disagree. O'Meara would not get approved by the Senate. And Clarence Thomas barely won approval in the Senate. But if you really want to know why he got appointed it's because Bush won the election in 1988--and Dukakis didn't. Elections have consequences.
+23 # Farafalla 2014-03-06 16:32
The right wing would oppose any nomination to the DOJ position of civil rights. The discussion here ignores the obvious:

"The Republicans in the Senate do not want anyone in the job for which Debo Adegbile was nominated -- Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights -- because they'd all prefer that particular division of the Justice Department simply go away."
+2 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:23
Except, of course, when they are in power and they can nominate someone who shares their racist and anti-civil rights tendencies (eg. Bradley Schlozman)
+10 # Majikman 2014-03-06 17:31
The civil rights of all citizens took another hit with this latest disgrace of congress and another boost to the police state who are increasingly judge, jury and executioner. Justice? We don't need no stinkin' justice...just listen to the mob.
+13 # Rcomm 2014-03-06 17:43
We can not condemn an attorney for defending someone we feel is not entitled to a defense.
Consider John Adams, second POTUS: "In 1770, he provided a principled, controversial, and successful legal defense to British soldiers, accused in the Boston Massacre because he believed in the right to counsel and the "protect[ion] of innocence."
from Wikipedia
-4 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:51
How would you feel if Adigbile had represented George Zimmerman or Michael Dunn? Why do I have a feeling that your viewpoints would be different then?
+6 # Jim Young 2014-03-06 20:31
Captain Thomas Preston, of Boston Massacre fame was defended by John Adams, who saw it as his duty that even the enemy received a fair trial. See

I would hope for the same representation would be provided, even for any of those who forget the rule of law too easily.

*EDIT Added: Sorry, I didn't see Rcomm's comment before I sent mine, maybe the reference will add a bit*
+8 # angelfish 2014-03-06 21:01
Calling them Democrats is an insult to REAL Democrats all over this Country. What they are is DINOs. Democrats in Name Only! Turning down this eminently qualified Candidate is Criminal and speaks to the incompetence of SO many in Washington! Pitiful!
-3 # Rain17 2014-03-06 23:52
And yes, if many people at RSN had their way, there would be only 35 Democratic senators, 150 Democratic House members, and only 15 Democratic Governors because they would be the only ones who could win the purity tests that others here have. But they would be happy because, even though they would be a significantly outnumbered minority, they would all be ideologically pure even though they would get nothing done.
+3 # RHytonen 2014-03-07 09:37
This post assumes no one would ever be elected who is not a member of the current (versions of) the Democratic or Republican Party.

What WILL you do when soon enough neither exists any longer, and the very titles are anathema - as well they should be, considering the last 50 years..

Another world is not only possible, but inevitable. What other fascist regime has ever survived for long, once recognized by the world for what it is?
+5 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-03-07 00:03
Rain 17. The first rule when you find yourself in a hole is to STOP DIGGING. You are just pissing in corners and you are one of those "weenies" I spoke of in my earlier post. New depths of shallow.
+6 # bcwik 2014-03-07 14:39
Rain, you seem fixated on the idea that the defendant may or may not have killed cop. I admit, I never heard of this case and I know nothing about it. However I firmly believe deep down in my gut that no mater how heinous the crime, the defendant has the right to a competent defense.
The one thing I am also convinced about is that after many years of observing the criminal justice system in this country I understand that it is deeply flawed. By this I mean that many innocent men and women have been incarcerated, condemned to death and executed because of botched investigations, overzealous prosecutors and corrupt judges.
That being said, there is no excuse, ever, for holding the lawyer responsible or punishing him or her politically, financially, or personally for defending anyone.
The politicians who voted against this nomination, your flimsy cover for them not withstanding, are a bunch of cowards.
+4 # CTPatriot 2014-03-08 05:25
+2 # revhen 2014-03-09 17:18
So if someone follows our constitution and provides legal defense for a murderer he becomes disqualified for a legal position? Scary cowardly insanity by one and all.

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