Eight Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined Republicans in a vote to block President Obama's nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
"[Adegbile's] nomination was adamantly and vocally opposed by conservatives due to his participation in an appeal filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal — an internationally-known prisoner convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner."
The Senate vote was 47-52 against Adegbile's nomination.
It marks the first Obama administration nominee to be rejected under new Senate rules approved in November requiring only a simple majority to move such nominations ahead.
"Adegbile previously worked for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, which worked in support of Abu-Jamal's efforts to overturn his death sentence."
"That past led both of Pennsylvania's senators — including Democrat Bob Casey — to oppose Adegbile's nomination. Republicans spent much of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning on the Senate floor criticizing the assistant AG choice pointedly for his work with Abu-Jamal."
"'He decided to join a political cause ... and in my view, by doing so he demonstrated his own contempt for — and frankly a willingness to undermine — the criminal justice system of the United States,' said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). 'I do not believe that Mr. Adegbile's nomination is consistent with justice for the family of officer Danny Faulkner or for anyone else that cares about the law enforcement community.'"