Debo Adegbile, President
Neither objection has merit. Like any president, Obama is entitled to Justice Department officials who share his views. As for the charge that Adegbile is hostile to law enforcement, it's based on a fundamental misunderstanding of a lawyer's role.
The most sensational — and unfair — criticism of Adegbile involves the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Adegbile and other attorneys at the
The Fraternal Order of Police complained to Obama that Abu-Jamal's "just sentence — death — was undone by your nominee and others like him." Actually, it was a federal appeals court that overturned Abu-Jamal's death sentence, citing flawed jury instructions.
And it's offensive to suggest that Adegbile should be disqualified because he provided representation to a client, even one convicted of a shocking crime. In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, James Silkenat, the president of the American Bar Assn., wrote that Adegbile's representation of an unpopular client was "consistent with the finest tradition of this country's legal profession and should be commended, not condemned."
Equally dubious is the idea, implied in questions posed to Adegbile by Republican senators, that his candidacy is complicated by the fact that the Supreme Court rejected legal arguments he and the Legal Defense Fund espoused. In the most prominent such case — the court's 5-4 decision striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act — Adegbile was right and the majority was wrong. But Adegbile has promised that, as assistant attorney general, he would abide by that and other precedents.