PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick joined Chris Stigall Thursday on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT to discuss the Senate’s rejection of Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nomination to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

Click below to listen to the podcast…

Seven Democrats joined Republicans to defeat Adegbile’s bid, 52-47.

Adegbile had been a controversial choice for the post given his past work for Mumia Abu-Jamal when he ran the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Fitzpatrick believes that the efforts of Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel was killed by Abu-Jamal, and police groups were crucial to influencing the outcome.

“The National Fraternal Order wrote to every Senator. They told them this was a vote of ‘either you’re with us or against us’…They made it an issue. But perhaps more important were the phone calls that Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the slain police officer, was making from her home to individual Senators,” Fitzpatrick said.

He added that Adegbile’s actions in promoting Abu-Jamal’s case crossed the line from legal representation into political advocacy.
“He supervised a legal team that was willing to attend rallies, celebrate the status of Mumia as some sort of cause célèbre, selling t-shirts on college campuses, and actually travelling to the city in France to have a street named after him…That was stepping over the line. This nominee is entitled to do it. This is a great and free country where you can have the right to speak out on cases like that…Mumia has the right to an attorney. Debo has the right to represent him. But then don’t come and say, ‘I can be objective and independent and protect the rights of police officers’ and have police from around the country believe that you have their backs also,” he said.

Fitzpatrick also feels that yesterday’s vote will have ramifications for the Obama Administration far into the future.

“This is the first major defeat of the Obama presidency. People are going to look back on that vote yesterday and consider it to be a turning point in this administration. I think people will look at the vote as the moment when rank and file Democrats in the Senate walked away from the President,” he said.