President Obama blasted as a “travesty” the Senate’s failure to confirm his nominee, Debo Adegbile, as an Assistant Attorney General today.
The nomination failed to advance when only 47 Senators, all Democrats, voted to end debate.
“The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant,” President Obama said. “Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable. He represents the best of the legal profession, with wide-ranging experience, and the deep respect of those with whom he has worked. His unwavering dedication to protecting every American’s civil and Constitutional rights under the law – including voting rights – could not be more important right now.
The President added: “And Mr. Adegbile’s personal story – rising from adversity to become someone who President Bush’s Solicitor General referred to as one of the nation’s most capable litigators – is a story that proves what America has been and can be for people who work hard and play by the rules. As a lawyer, Mr. Adgebile has played by the rules. And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him. The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice – and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant.”
Separately, Eric Holder the Attorney General said, “I’m very disappointed in the Senate’s vote. At a time when significant voting rights cases and other consequential matters are pending, it is more critical than ever to have a confirmed leader for the Civil Rights Division. Mr. Adegbile is a uniquely qualified nominee and an exceptional lawyer. He deserved to have his nomination considered wholly on the merits. 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. 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.”
Fifty-two senators voted to block the nomination, including seven Democrats; some of them face re-election. Majority Leader Harry Reid voted against the nomination for procedural reasons that allows him to bring it up again.