President Barack Obama Has Appointed A Zealous And Competent Civil Rights Lawyer To the U.S. Commission On Civil Rights, And There Isn’t A Thing Wrong With That.

Perry Mason would have defended Mumia Abu-Jamal...

Perry Mason would have defended Mumia Abu-Jamal…

President Barack Obama has appointed Debo Adegbile,  who had served as an former attorney for convicted controversial police-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, to a six-year post on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The eight-member commission consists of four members appointed by the president and four appointed by Congress.

Adegbile worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund when he represented Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the  1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal’s sentence was reduced to life in prison. Predictably, rightish-commentators and of course police groups are highly critical of the appointment, just as they were in 2014 when they and others convinced the Senate to reject Obama’s nomination of  Adegbile to lead the Justice Department’s Office on Civil Rights. Ethics Alarms noted then, in the post, The Right’s Unethical, Ignorant, Un-American And Dangerous Attack On Debo Adegbile,

“It says nothing of Debo Adegbile’s fitness as a public servant that he represented a convicted cop killer, a cannibal, Son of Sam, Spiro Agnew or Willie Sutton. It simply says that he is a lawyer, and one who embraces the traditional ethics and aspirations of the profession. Abraham Lincoln won fame getting an acquittal for a friend whom Lincoln knew was guilty of murder, but the prosecution didn’t have the evidence to prove it. Good. Does this mean he was pro-murder? Clarence Darrow used his extraordinary persuasive power to stop over a hundred men accused of murder—most of them guilty, some of them certifiable monsters— from being executed. Good. They were citizens, they had as much a right to use the laws that offered them protection as the government had to use other laws to threaten their lives and freedom. Was Darrow a fan of killers? No, he was fan of making sure ordinary people weren’t crushed by laws and systems they could never understand, use or survive without the help of a lawyer, in his case, the greatest lawyer of them all…. The principle [critics of Adegbile’s defense of Abu-Jamal] are advocating… is a sinister one, where lawyers rather than judges or juries pass premature judgment on the claims and needs of citizens, and withhold competent access to legal remedies according the their personal assessments regarding the validity of a citizen’s motives. This, of course, gives unacceptable power to lawyers, making it their choice who gets the protections of our justice system and who does not. The danger of this contention cannot be understated….let’s remind all the conservatives using this irresponsible tactic where it leads. It leads directly to citizens being slaves to their own nations’ laws, because they can’t possibly access them on their own, with lawyers deciding who is worthy of being able to take advantage of our “inalienable” rights, and who has the “privilege” of legal representation.”

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Gotcha, NPR! Liberal Bigotry About Bigotry Exposed

"Wah, my conSTITuants in the great Southan state of Mawntana just don't wanna see any coloreds get away with shootin' owa  law enforcement officahs, that's all!"

“Wah, my conSTITuants in the great Southan state of Mawntana just don’t wanna see any coloreds get away with shootin’ owa law enforcement officahs, that’s all!”

One progressive lie I hear and read repeatedly from Democrats and their news media lackeys is that the Supreme Court “gutted” the Votingl Rights Act of 1965 by decreeing that it was unconstitutional for the Justice Department to use decades old data to presume racial bias in legislative measures and policies adopted by Southern states. This was holding in the case of Shelby v. Holder. The Court justly ruled that Congress had to develop current, accurate criteria. Progressives and the Obama Administration screamed and are still screaming, because pretending it was still Jim Crow, Bull Connor and Mississippi burning in the South gave the federal government a way to over-ride legitimate and non-racist laws (like voter ID requirements), based on bias: if it’s a southern state, it must be racist.

Yesterday, National Public Radio inadvertently demonstrated how this bias operates. I have already written about what is wrong with conservative opposition to Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. Essentially, he is being condemned for trying to protect an individual’s civil rights. But the police unions are determined to punish him because that particular individual was a cop killer, and our law enforcement officials don’t think such people have rights. They are wrong, Adegbile was right.

This is not truly a racial issue, but because Adegbile is black, because he worked for the NAACP, because the cop killer is black, because Obama is black and because Democrats have spent the Obama years making everything about race to serve their cynical political needs,  the controversy has been reported as a racial justice issue. It is really a stupidity issue, as I pointed out in my earlier post. It is stupid, ignorant and destructive to treat criminal lawyers as if they support the crimes of their clients.

The police lobby was strong enough, sadly, to defeat Adegbile’s nomination in the Senate, as sufficient Democrats from conservative states decided to cater to ignorance as enthusiastically as their Republican colleagues. Here are the Democratic Senators who voted “nay”:

Chris Coons (Del.)
Bob Casey (Pa.)
Mark Pryor (Ark.)
Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
Joe Manchin (W.V.)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.) 
John Walsh (Mont.)

Plus Harry Reid (Nev.), who switched his vote for tactical purposes.

Here is how NPR described them on NPR’s Morning Edition :

“A handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat president Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.” Continue reading

The Right’s Unethical, Ignorant, Un-American And Dangerous Attack On Debo Adegbile

"How can you trust him to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department? He's a Lawyer!"

“How can you trust him to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department? He’s a Lawyer!”

I don’t know much about Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. I know that he could hardly be more of a disaster than the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, and that the odds are that he would have to be much better. It may be that Adegbile is superbly qualified; it may be that he isn’t qualified at all. But I do know, with 100% certainty, that his representation of a convicted cop killer to seek to overturn his conviction is completely, absolutely irrelevant to his qualifications or character, and that for conservatives, Republicans and GOP Senators in Adegbile’s confirmation hearings to argue otherwise is both irresponsible and contemptible.

I first learned of this controversy from conservative radio host Mark Levin, who can really be an ugly hypocrite at times, and this was one of those times. Levin is a distinguished lawyer and an ethical one*; I refuse to believe that he does not comprehend ABA Model Rule 1.2 (b) or its importance to his profession. It reads:

“A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.”

This principle is essential to allow, not merely the justice system but the entire rule of laws in a democracy, to function properly, and any lawyer who cynically, unethically, and dishonestly undermines it is playing with fire. “It is a move,writes  Prof. Jonathan Turley, “that strikes at the heart of the notion of the right to counsel and due process”—-but it is much more than that. If every citizen does not have full access to the laws of the land, the ability to use them to his own benefit and protection whatever his purpose, as long as it is legal, then this is not a government by the people and for the people, but rather a government of law-manipulating specialists and experts who bend ordinary citizens to their will through the use of complex, convoluted, jargon-riddled statutes and regulations that their victims can’t possibly understand. Continue reading