Its was a sad day in Congress yesterday. As I reported, Darrell Issa demonstrated his immature and perhaps disqualifying behavior in a showdown with fellow committee member, Rep. Elijah Cummings. Issa's behavior has him now mocked and ridiculed everywhere except of course, with his main "employer," Fox News.
Elsewhere on the Capitol Hill, the GOP celebrated in infamy a 50th vote to repeal Obamacare. While there hasn't been enough time to vote on a jobs bill, immigration reform or an extension to jobless benefits, Speaker Boehner was able to squeeze in a futile symbolic vote which came up exactly like the last 49 attempts -- without any chance of forward movement. The cost of this clown show of votes in manpower? Millions of dollars in staff hours alone.
Hard as it may be to conceive, there was a greater affront to justice and our Constitution which took place yesterday. It happened in the Senate. The upper house voted on the president's nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
As Chris Hayes on All In points out, the precedent has been set now. If you have been a practicing attorney and been dealt a high profile case -- and won -- you're not viable for Senate approval as a presidential nominee. By doing your job, and doing it well, you're disqualified.
Our constitution has made clear that as Americans, we have certain rights, though the interpretations vary and that's what drives the religious right and the ultra-right Republicans. They love to hide behind, twist and turn their interpretations of these, especially the right to bear arms, to freedom of speech and religious beliefs. What they did yesterday was abridge the Bill of Rights -- the sixth amendment. The part of that amendment that I'm referring to "... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence [sic]."
All Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to sink Debo Adegbile’s nomination to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The overriding reason for their opposition was that he once represented Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row inmate convicted 30 years ago of killing a Philadelphia police officer.
Adegbile did not make the decision to take on the case. When he became the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in 2012, the group was already representing Abu-Jamal, and Adegbile continued to do so on a narrow constitutional issue. In other words, he was just doing his job by advocating for his client.
Using this litmus test to disqualify people from high government office, we'd have to veto Conservative hero Chief Justice John Roberts and the late President John Adams. They both defended and successfully gained acquittal for their clients accused of heinous or treasonous crimes. All Adegbile did was seek justice as was his obligation under the law. And he didn't get a guilty man freed, he got the sentence moved from death to life -- both would keep him off the streets. I pause to wonder if this victim of this murder was a black carpenter instead of a white cop if we'd even be having this discussion.
As Chris Hayes commented on the Republicans and Democrats who voted down this nomination based on providing adequate legal defense (and by the way, winning) to a defendant in court, "Shame on you, senators!"