Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) plans to vote against President Barack Obama's appointment for a top Justice Department position because the nominee previously tried to overturn a death sentence, according to Philly.com.
Casey is believed to be the first Congressional Democrat to publicly express opposition to Obama's nomination of Debo Adegbile. The statement Casey provided to Philly.com on Friday said "I respect that our system of law ensures the right of all citizens to legal representation no matter how heinous the crime,” but added "The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the City of Philadelphia. After carefully considering this nomination and having met with both Mr. Adegbile as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, I will not vote to confirm the nominee."
Adegbile, a former NAACP Legal Defense Fund official, was approved by a Senate Judiciary Committee in February. The pick of Adegbile has come under fire from Republicans and law enforcement groups for his role in overturning the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who was convicted in the 1981 killing of a white Philadelphia police officer.
As a legal defender for the NAACP, Adebgile's job was to ensure that the "American criminal justice system is administered fairly and without regard to race." According to an NAACP Legal Defense Fund statement, claims of constitutional error made by Adebgile's team in how the case was handled were valid.
Philly.com reports Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) have voiced opposition to the pick. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said picking Adegbile would politicize the Justice Department.
Democrats have mostly stood by Obama’s pick, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) saying Adegbile “didn’t deserve the disparagement" and that "Debo has earned a reputation for working to bring members from both sides of the aisle together." Philly.com reports that Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called Adegbile "one of the preeminent civil rights attorneys of his generation."
Numerous Obama appointments have been met with resistance, making the process slow and ensnared in partisan conflict.