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NAACP issues letter after Republicans block Asst. Attorney General nominee

Carla St.Louis | 3/13/2014, 9 a.m.

The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) criticized the U.S. Senate’s failure to select Debo Adegbile as the next Assistant Attorney General in a heated e-mail.

Adegbile's nomination was shot down, 52-47, due to his participation in overturning the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal for the murder of a white Philadelphia police officer. The Fraternal Order of Police lobbied Republicans about his role in Abu-Jamal's case.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund Inc aided in the case along with Adegbile. Despite their efforts, Abu-Jamal is still serving a life sentence after prosecutors refused a retrial.

Adegible was initially nominated by President Barack Obama on November 18th of last year because of his extensive background in civil rights litigation.

His nomination received tremendous support from the Black community through the NAACP. So it was to no one's surprise when the NAACP sent a detailed letter via e-mail expressing their outrage over Adegible's snub by the Republican led Senate. They referred to the decision as a “disgrace” and “a loss for all Americans.”

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Obama

The letter read: "Mr. Adegbile is not only intimately familiar with the civil rights problems and challenges of racial and ethnic minorities throughout the United States, but he also has a proven track record in taking a proactive approach to implementing long term, permanent solutions to these problems.”

The e-mail also spoke highly of Adegible's track record in litigation that included cases on voting rights, fair housing, employment discrimination and equal educational opportunity.

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Adegbile

According to public records, Adegbile has argued more civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other Assistant Attorney General nominee in modern history.

A Divided Congress

The vote represents the first time the Senate has rejected an Obama nominee since Democrats changed the rules last November that requires a majority vote to limit debate on presidential appointments.

Senate Republicans argued Adegbile's defense, accusing him of misrepresenting Abu-Jamal as a victim of racism from the criminal justice system rather than a cold-blooded killer.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused Adegbile of overstepping his role as an advocate and attorney.

“[Adegbile’s] advocacy on behalf of the nation’s most notorious cop killer calls into question his fitness for the powerful government position he seeks,” McConnell said to Bloomberg.com.

President Obama, in a statement to Bloomberg.com, described Republicans’ failure to confirm Adegbile’s nomination as a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks” against an “impeccable […] public servant.

Democrats agreed.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said in a statement,”His record was either misunderstood or intentionally misrepresented for the sake of politics. Our legal system hinges on the fundamental ideal that every accused individual has a constitutional right to counsel.

He further said: "It is a very dangerous precedent to set for the legal profession when individual lawyers can have their otherwise sterling qualifications denigrated based solely on the clients that their organizations represent.”