Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell opposes the nomination of Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general.
“The Department of Justice in this Administration has too often put politics ahead of the law. The record of the nominee before us to head the Civil Rights Division strongly indicates that if he were confirmed, the politicization of the Justice Department would increase further. He has a long record of left-wing advocacy, marked by ideologically-driven positions and poor judgment," said McConnell on the Senate floor.
“In District of Columbia v. Heller, he argued in the Supreme Court that it would be ‘radical’ to recognize ‘an individual right to keep and bear arms.’ In fact, before the Supreme Court, he repeatedly described the principle of individual liberty protected by the Second Amendment as a ‘radical’ proposition. It was the position advocated by the nominee, however, that the Supreme Court ruled was woefully at odds with the Constitution and individual liberty.
“He also called the requirement to present identification before voting a ‘modern poll tax.’ Americans strongly support this basic safeguard for the integrity of our elections, and it has been endorsed by liberal Democrats such as President Carter. Not surprisingly, in Crawford v. Marion County, the Supreme Court rejected the nominee’s views on this subject as well.
“And in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, he took the position in the Supreme Court that a church did not have the First Amendment right to hire or fire individuals who were responsible for conveying the church’s message and implementing its mission. The position the nominee advocated would greatly infringe on the Free Exercise rights of religious institutions. The Supreme Court rejected his views there, too—this time unanimously, 9-0.
“But it is his advocacy on behalf of the nation’s most-notorious cop-killer that most calls into question his fitness for the powerful government position he seeks.
“In December of 1981, twenty-five year old Officer Daniel Faulkner was conducting a routine traffic stop when Wesley Cook—also known as, Mumia Abu-Jamal—shot him in the back. He then stood over Officer Faulkner and shot him several more times in the chest. As Officer Faulkner lay dying in the street, defenseless, Abu-Jamal shot him in the face, killing him. At the hospital, Abu-Jamal bragged that he had shot Officer Faulkner and expressed his hope that he would die.
“At trial, he was remorseless. He turned the trial into political theater, interrupting the proceedings, insulting the judge, and even smirking at Officer Faulkner’s widow when his blood-stained shirt was held up in court as evidence.
“Four eyewitnesses saw Abu-Jamal gun down Officer Faulkner. Three more witnesses at the hospital heard him confess to the crime. Ballistics evidence proved that Officer Faulkner had been shot with a handgun that was registered to Abu-Jamal, which was found at the scene of the murder, along with shell casings.
“Based on overwhelming evidence, Abu-Jamal was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. What followed was a thirty year effort by the far-left to glorify Abu-Jamal and to exonerate him. This effort was taken up by law professors, left-wing activists, and in 2009, by the organization which the nominee before us led for several years, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“When the LDF became Abu Jamal’s co-counsel in 2011, its press release called him a ‘symbol’ of ‘racial injustice.’ It said ‘Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination.’ An LDF lawyer attended rallies for Abu-Jamal. She said it was ‘absolutely’ an ‘honor’ to represent him; and that doing so was her ‘pleasure.’ And she said, ‘There is no question in the mind of anyone at the Legal Defense Fund that the justice system has completely and utterly failed Mumia Abu-Jamal.’
“This demagoguery of the murder of a defenseless police officer has shocked and offended law enforcement officers from across the country.
“The current District Attorney of Philadelphia, Seth Williams, wrote the Judiciary Committee last month to oppose the nominee’s confirmation. He wrote: ‘Apart from being patently false, moreover, these claims are personally insulting to me. As an African-American, I know all too well the grievous consequences of racial discrimination and prejudice. I also know that Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced because of the evidence, not because of his race. And I have continued to fight for the jury’s verdict because it was the just result.’
“District Attorney Williams notes that, given all the cases in which the LDF could be involved, it was ‘telling’ that the nominee would go out of his way to inject himself and his organization into this one. ‘His decision to champion the cause of an extremist cop-killer… sends a message of contempt to police officers.’
“The National Fraternal Order of Police wrote President Obama to express its ‘vehement opposition to the nomination.’ The FOP wrote that ‘as word of this nomination spreads through the law enforcement community, reactions range from anger to incredulity,’ and that it ‘can be interpreted in only one way: it is a thumb in the eye of our nation’s law enforcement officers.’
“The Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association wrote me a powerful letter in opposition to the nomination as well. In it, they note that, ‘The thought that [the nominee] would be rewarded, in part, for the work he did for Officer Faulkner’s killer is revolting.’
“The nominee has acknowledged that as the Director of Litigation for the LDF, he ‘supervised [its] entire legal staff.’ According to the LDF’s own website, the Director is responsible for coordinating ‘the selection of cases’ the LDF chooses to get involved in. He manages ‘all aspects of the legal docket.’ He oversees ‘all aspects of discovery, motion practice, briefs, trials, appellate work and amicus briefing.’
“And as the Director of Litigation, he is responsible for advocacy ‘both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion.’ Let me repeat, he is responsible for advocacy ‘both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion.’
“As the head of the Civil Rights Division, the nominee now would be responsible for fulfilling the Division’s mission of ‘upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals.’ And he would have powerful resources at his disposal, as well as the discretion to determine how, and on whose behalf, to use them.
“As the junior senator from Pennsylvania has noted, the head of the Civil Rights Division must ‘have an absolute commitment to truth and justice.’ My friend from Pennsylvania goes on to observe that while ‘there are many highly qualified Americans who can carry out this critical mission,’ the nominee’s ‘record creates serious doubts that he is one of them.’
“I could not say it any better. Everyone deserves a fair trial and a zealous legal defense. And lawyers aren’t personally responsible for the actions of their clients. But lawyers are responsible for their own actions.
“In this case, the nominee inserted his office in an effort to turn reality on its head, impugn honorable and selfless law enforcement officers, and glorify an unrepentant cop-killer. This is not required by our legal system. On the contrary, it is noxious to it.
“I therefore will oppose the nomination, and strongly urge my colleagues to do so as well.
“Finally, I would like to note the manner in which this nomination may come to an up or down vote. Last fall, the Majority chose to break the Rules of the Senate in order to change the Rules of the Senate. In so doing, they violated the right of the Minority under the Rules to require extended debate on controversial nominees to powerful federal positions.
“This serious breach of the Rules is an on-going violation, and it is highlighted again today by the Majority’s effort to muscle-through the current nominee under a procedure they came up with in the Majority Leader’s conference room, not through the Rules Committee and the regular order, as was promised.
“Members of the Majority who voted for this heavy-handed procedure last fall will be responsible for the nominee’s confirmation today, if that occurs, regardless of how they vote on the nomination itself. And they should not be heard to complain that the nominations process is not as productive as it was just a few months ago—before they threw caution to the wind and violated our rights under the Standing Rules of the Senate.”