Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee turned a deaf ear to the pleas of a slain Philadelphia police officer’s widow yesterday when they voted to approve his killer’s lawyer as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Before voting 10-8 along party lines to approve President Obama’s choice, former NAACP lawyer Debo Adegbile, committee members all received copies of a letter written the day before by Maureen Faulkner. The widow appealed to lawmakers’ “sense of right and wrong, good and evil” in asking them to reject Adegbile because of his efforts to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the “remorseless, unrepentant” man convicted of murdering her husband, Officer Daniel Faulkner, in 1981.
“The thought that Mr. Adegbile would be rewarded, in part, for the work he did for my husband’s killer is revolting,” Faulkner wrote in the three-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Foundry. She added: “Today, as my husband lies 33 years in the grave, his killer has become a wealthy celebrity. He pens books and social commentaries critical of our country.”
Faulkner, who now lives in Los Angeles, was 24 when Abu-Jamal shot her husband multiple times – the fatal bullet went through his brain, she writes — after the 25-year-old officer made a routine traffic stop on a Center City Philadelphia street in December 1981.
Although Abu-Jamal was convicted by a jury that gave him the death penalty on the testimony of multiple eye witnesses, liberal activists turned the killer into an imprisoned celebrity. Three years ago, a panel of federal judges overturned the death sentence on a technicality. As a leader of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile was one of those who championed Abu-Jamal’s cause – and in his critics’ view, twisted a case of cold-blooded murder into being about race and privilege.
“Mr. Adegbile was a willing and enthusiastic accomplice in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s bid to cheat us of the justice we waited so many years for,” Faulkner said in her letter to Judiciary Committee members. “Mr. Adegbile freely chose to throw the weight of his organization behind Mumia Abu-Jamal, and he has publically stated that he would get Mumia Abu-Jamal off death row.”
Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) personally distributed copies of the widow’s letter to committee members. However, all 10 Democrats voted to approve Adegbile, 46, now senior counselor to the committee, while all eight Republicans voted against him.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) now will decide when to send the nomination to the Senate floor for a final vote. In the meanwhile, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who wrote fellow lawmakers to oppose Adegbile, is among Republican members who hope to persuade six or more Democrats.
Because Republicans recently lost the ability to filibuster under Reid, they will need to convince Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) and other Democrats that Adegbile isn’t the right choice for the top civil rights job – though he also has attracted strong support as an intelligent, qualified choice.
Toomey’s office announced today that he and Fitzpatrick will join a bipartisan group of elected officials in Northeast Philadelphia on Monday for a news conference to speak out against the nomination. Earlier this week, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, a Democrat, called on the Judiciary Committee to reject Adegbile.
Read Maureen Faulkner’s entire letter here:
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.