By Walt Hunter and Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Senate vote blocked the President’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to a top Department of Justice post after it was learned the nominee had previously worked on a death penalty appeal for Mumia Abu Jamal, convicted of gunning down Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Several Democrats, including Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey and Delaware’s Chris Coons, joined Republicans in the Senate Wednesday afternoon in quashing President Obama’s pick.
Senate confirmation should have been a breeze with a Democratic nominee, the same party in control, and filibuster rules favoring the majority. But Faulkner’s widow mounted a campaign against Adegbile, and found a friend in Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.
“I just felt that this was sufficiently important case, that it was worth taking on the fight,” Toomey said.
The Republican says he holds Adegbile responsible for how subordinates fought to free Abu-Jamal.
“Despite the fact that he was an admitted murderer. That was a political campaign to discredit this country and our criminal justice system,” Toomey said.
Retired Police Officer Thomas Hoban, who served with the murdered officer, says he believes Faulkner’s widow Maureen was “elated” by the decision.
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby says the nomination to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division was a “slap in the face” to law enforcement officers nationwide.
Following the vote, the President issued a statement that reads, in part, “The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
Toomey, who voted against the nomination, praised the decision, as did Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who told reporters that immediately upon learning the outcome of the vote, he phoned Maureen Faulkner to let her know.