Obama names for­mer at­tor­ney for cop killer to civil rights post

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

In a move sure to fray his re­la­tions with law en­force­ment, Pres­i­dent Obama on Thurs­day ap­pointed Debo Adeg­bile, a for­mer at­tor­ney for con­victed cop killer Mu­mia Abu-Ja­mal, to a six-year post on the U.S. Com­mis­sion on Civil Rights.

Mr. Adeg­bile worked at the NAACP Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund when he rep­re­sented Abu-Ja­mal in the ap­peal of his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence for the no­to­ri­ous 1981 shoot­ing death of Philadelphia po­lice of­fi­cer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Ja­mal’s sen­tence was re­duced to life in prison.

The case prompted the Se­nate to re­ject Mr. Adeg­bile’s nom­i­na­tion in 2014 when Mr. Obama ap­pointed him to lead the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s of­fice on civil rights. Some Democrats joined Repub­li­cans in vot­ing down the se­lec­tion at that time.

Lib­er­als praised the lat­est nom­i­na­tion. The Center for Amer­i­can Progress cited Mr. Adeg­bile’s “work on em­ploy­ment, hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion, crim­i­nal jus­tice and vot­ing rights.”

Mr. Obama also ap­pointed Cather­ine Lha­mon, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for civil rights at the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment, to a six-year seat on the com­mis­sion. She drew the ire of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers in 2011 for is­su­ing a “dear col­league” let­ter to col­leges ad­vis­ing them to lower their stan­dards for judg­ing stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment of bul­ly­ing, touch­ing off a dis­pute in Congress over the le­gal au­thor­ity of the let­ter.

The Center for Amer­i­can Progress praised both ap­pointees as “in­di­vid­u­als with a long and proven his­tory of com­mit­ment to the ad­vance­ment civil rights.”

The Se­nate’s re­jec­tion of Mr. Adeg­bile on a 52-47 vote in 2014 marked the first time that the Se­nate re­jected one of Mr. Obama’s nom­i­nees since Democrats changed fil­i­buster rules to re­quire only a sim­ple ma­jor­ity for pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions, an eas­ier thresh­old that the Adeg­bile pick still failed.

Mr. Adeg­bile drew op­po­si­tion from na­tional law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions as well as a bi­par­ti­san group of sen­a­tors for his in­volve­ment with Abu-Ja­mal, who be­came a cause cele­bre from his prison cell.

Af­ter the nom­i­na­tion was de­feated, Mr. Obama called the vote a “trav­esty based on wildly un­fair char­ac­ter at­tacks against a good and qual­i­fied pub­lic ser­vant.”

“Those who voted against his nom­i­na­tion de­nied the Amer­i­can peo­ple an out­stand­ing pub­lic ser­vant,” Mr. Obama said.

At the time, Sen. Pa­trick J. Toomey, Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can, said Mr. Adeg­bile had “de­cided to join a po­lit­i­cal cause. … And in my view, by do­ing so, he demon­strated his own con­tempt for — and frankly a will­ing­ness to un­der­mine — the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem of the United States.”

“I do not be­lieve that Mr. Adeg­bile’s nom­i­na­tion is con­sis­tent with jus­tice for the fam­ily of of­fi­cer Danny Faulkner or for any­one else that cares about the law en­force­ment com­mu­nity,” Mr. Toomey said at the time.

The eight-mem­ber civil rights com­mis­sion con­sists of four mem­bers ap­pointed by the pres­i­dent and four ap­pointed by Congress. The six-year ap­point­ments are not sub­ject to Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

The com­mis­sion is an in­de­pen­dent, bi­par­ti­san, fact-find­ing fed­eral agency with a mis­sion to “in­form the de­vel­op­ment of na­tional civil rights pol­icy and en­hance en­force­ment of fed­eral civil rights laws,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site.


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