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The Adegbile nomination: Rejecting race-baiting

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Thursday, March 6, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

The unvarnished truth for Debo Adegbile was that he had engaged in a blatant case of race-baiting. And that was too much for even seven Senate Democrats — among them, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — who joined with every Senate Republican — led by Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey — to block the nomination of Mr. Adegbile to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Adegbile supervised an NAACP legal team that argued that the 1981 murder conviction of Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther, was tainted by racism. The black nationalist's death sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Now, it's one thing to represent a client to the best of your legal ability. And we would expect no less. But it's quite another to recklessly fan the flames of racism where none exists. And that's exactly what Adegbile did. Mr. Abu-Jamal is neither the hero nor political prisoner he was painted as and he certainly is no victim. He is a ruthless and unrepentant murderer.

At least one Democrat, Tom Harkin of Iowa, called Adegbile's rejection a racist act. President Obama defended the indefensible actions of Adegbile, calling his qualifications “impeccable,” saying he “represents the best of the legal profession” and that his defeat “runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice.”

“(T)hose who voted against (Adegbile's) nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant,” Mr. Obama said. No, Mr. President, they stood up for common decency.

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