Because no matter how maddening the Republicans may be, at least they will follow in lockstep behind their president. Unlike these seven gutless wonders.
Debo Adegbile, who previously served as the acting head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, is one of the nation’s top civil rights attorneys. He’s also a leading expert on voting rights who twice defended the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court — the first time successfully. He was, in other words, an ideal candidate to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division — the division which, among other things, oversees the federal government’s voting rights work in an era where conservative state lawmakers are currently waging a widespread campaign to prevent demographic groups that tend to vote for Democrats from casting a ballot.
And yet, the Senate just voted his nomination down, thanks to seven Democrats. The Democrats who opposed Adegbile’s confirmation are Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and John Walsh (D-MT).
Apparently his disqualifying factors were his leadership in the NAACP and his participation in the defense of a high-profile criminal defendant against the death penalty.
It’s apparently easy for some – including a majority of the U.S. Senate – to forget that in the United States, we believe that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a defense. It’s a basic principle woven into the fabric of our justice system. No matter how heinous or shocking the allegations, we’re committed to a process in which defendants are treated fairly, including a right to competent counsel.
Americans have believed this since before we were even our own country. In 1770, John Adams provided the defense for eight British soldiers accused of the murders in the Boston Massacre. It didn’t mean Adams was un-American. It didn’t even stop Adams from later becoming president.
A majority of the Senate lost sight of this today. It was not the institution’s finest hour.
If the tables were turned and a Republican president nominated someone who had once participated in the defense of a man who murdered eight people, do you honestly think any Republican senator would vote against confirmation?