Senate blocks Obama's pick for civil rights post

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 4:53 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014
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He was at the organization from 2004-2013, serving as director of litigation from 2010-2012 and later as acting president. The organization filed a brief on Abu-Jamal's behalf in 2006, and represented him beginning in 2011, near the end of a 30-year legal struggle that resulted in a lifetime prison sentence.

Adegbile, who works at the Senate Judiciary Committee, was informed in advance of the vote that he was short of enough firm commitments to be assured of confirmation.

Republicans were relentless.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, recited the details of Faulkner's death in detail. The policeman was "conducting a routine traffic stop when Wesley Cook — also known as Mumia Abu-Jamal — shot him in the back. He then stood over Officer Faulkner and shot him several more times in the chest.

"As Officer Faulkner lay dying in the street, defenseless, Abu-Jamal shot him in the face, killing him. At the hospital, Abu-Jamal bragged that he had shot Officer Faulkner and expressed his hope that he would die."

Abu-Jamal was originally convicted and sentenced to death in state court, but a federal district court vacated the death penalty in a ruling upheld by an appeals court and let stand by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Underscoring the political element of the controversy, Senate supporters noted that the judge who initially overturned the death penalty and two appeals court judges who upheld it had been appointed by Republican presidents.

Republicans hinted strongly the vote would play a role in the 2014 midterm elections for control of Congress.

GOP chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that Abegbile had been "a convicted cop killer's most ardent defender," and said several Democrats seeking new terms in swing states had voted to advance the nomination.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights advocate, issued a statement that took the opposite view. The Democrats who voted with Republicans are guilty of "a betrayal that should not go unanswered," it said.

Apart from Reid, the Democrats who helped bottle up the nomination were Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chris Coons of Delaware, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana.

Pryor and Walsh are seeking new terms this fall, as is Coons. His state is close by the Philadelphia area, where the killing took place.

Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the vote, would have been available to break a tie if one had occurred.



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