Both Pennsylvania senators oppose Obama nominee who defended cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Both Pennsylvania U.S. senators, including Democrat Bob Casey, will vote against the Obama Department of Justice civil rights nominee who represented cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that Pennsylvanians and citizens across the country have full confidence in their public representatives – both elected and appointed,” Sen. Casey said in a statement.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told reporters in a conference call Monday that Adegbile is an “extremist, radical” Abu-Jamal defender.

The Daily Caller reported Dec. 29 that Debo Adegbile, who awaits Senate confirmation to become assistant attorney general for civil rights in Eric Holder’s DOJ, represented Abu-Jamal during his tenure as acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which he left in 2013 to join the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Adegbile comes up for a Senate confirmation vote Wednesday. He can be confirmed with 51 votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where his nomination passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a party-line 10-8 vote.

Many police organizations — including the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the widow of Abu-Jamal’s victim — have spoken out against Adegbile’s nomination.

Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, stemming from a shootout that resulted after Abu-Jamal approached Faulkner, who had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s younger brother at a traffic stop.

In addition to his membership in the Black Panther Party, Abu-Jamal was loosely associated with the Philadelphia-based separatist organization MOVE. While supporters describe him as a journalist, Abu-Jamal was driving a taxi at the time he murdered Faulkner. He has since become an iconic figure in the left-wing media and activist circles.

Adegbile also spoke alongside Holder, who read remarks from President and First Lady Obama, at a 2012 event at which an LDF attorney read a statement from Abu-Jamal.

“Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination. Unless and until courts acknowledge and correct these historic injustices, death sentences like Mr. Abu-Jamal’s will invite continued skepticism of the criminal justice system by the African-American community” said former LDF president John Payton, under whom Adegbile served as director of litigation when LDF took on Abu-Jamal’s case.

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