Being a blogger these days is so easy because most of these stories just kind of write themselves for you at times.
Like, for instance, how the United States Senate decided that "being a lawyer should disqualify you from holding a legal post".
Sadly, by blocking the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, that is just what they did.
As John Featherman wrote earlier:
He was born in New York State.
He has mixed ancestry.
He attended a prestigious law school.
He is married and has two children.
He's been called one of the best litigators of his generation.
He represented a death row inmate and convicted murderer.
He defended a very unpopular killer and a lot of people vowed to ruin his career.
But wait, the person that Featherman described above is not Debo Adegbile; it is none other than Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. [Source]
Of course I could just as well have been describing Adegbile, so I think you get the point.
Shame on the dumbocratic senators, who in a striking act of cowardice, voted along with republicans to block the nomination of a man who is eminently qualified to head up the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Every American who believes in upholding the rule of law should be outraged.
Adegbile, while a lawyer for the NAACP, defended Mumia Abu-Jamal. (Who by the way I happen to believe is guilty of killing Danny Faulkner. I read all the trial transcripts of that case, and I have spoken to attorney's I respect--- one of them was in the courtroom for most of the trial-- and I think that the right decision was ultimately made. Although I have some serious issues with how the trial itself was conducted, and I would have been fine with a new trial as well. I am opposed to the death penalty, so Mumia Abu-Jamal doing life now seems about right.) That was his job. As head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, he was duty bound to do so, and he took up this case on a very narrow Constitutional issue.
But none of this matters to the cowards in Washington. To them, it's all about politics at home; just having your name associated with Mumia Abu-Jamal is enough to put a stain on what has so far been a brilliant legal career.
"Ahead of the vote, members of the Bar of the Supreme Court warned senators against sinking Adegbile’s confirmation based on his representation of Abu-Jamal. In a January letter to Leahy and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, they argued that taking such action could send the wrong message to attorneys everywhere.
“LDF’s advocacy on behalf of Mr. Abu-Jamal does not disqualify Mr. Adegbile from leading the Civil Rights Division,” reads the letter. “To conclude otherwise would send the wrong message to any lawyer who is affiliated, or might be asked to become involved, with a difficult, unpopular case for the purpose of enforcing and preserving important constitutional principles.”
It’s not as if there aren’t other prominent figures in government who have had unpopular clients in the past. Representing a murderer in court didn't derail the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Roberts once devoted 25 pro bono hours to the case of John Errol Ferguson, who killed eight people and was one of the worst mass murderers in Florida's history.
Wade Henderson, who heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the vote on Adegbile revealed a "hypocritical" double standard.
"During the course of their long careers, both John Roberts and Debo Adegbile each performed a vital constitutional service by representing an unpopular client on death row," Henderson said. "Roberts is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but opponents of the Adegbile nomination twisted reality and resorted to some of the dirtiest attacks I’ve seen in my professional career. Instead of extolling his admirable record of service, as the American Bar Association did, extremists turned this family man into a ‘cop-killer defender’ and a buffoonish racialized caricature."
A piece by a New York Times editorial board writer published Wednesday made a similar point. "Some have called Mr. Adegbile a 'cop-killer advocate,'" it read. "Another word for that might be 'lawyer.'"
Perhaps the most famous example of a lawyer tasked with representing an unpopular client is John Adams, who in 1770 represented the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre. His defense of the enemy didn’t stop him from getting elected to the colonial legislature that year, and from eventually going on to become president of the United States.
But things are different in the case of Adegbile. Even some of the Republicans who voted to block him on Wednesday have previously argued that it was important to separate a nominee’s views from the views that he or she may have expressed in court.
In Oct. 1990, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) passionately defended then-Supreme Court nominee David Souter, who faced criticism during his confirmation process for defending literacy tests in his home state of New Hampshire. Hatch noted that those tests were existing law at the time, and that Souter, as the state's assistant attorney general, was required to defend them.
“It is not right to go back in hindsight and say he should not have done that; that that shows something wrong with him. Come on, that is what advocates do,” Hatch said at the time." [Source]
And what the senators who voted to block this man's confirmation did is what cowardly curs do.