Harry Reid: ‘I Won’t Give Up’ On Obama’s Civil Rights Pick Debo Adegbile

AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told a group of reporters on Thursday he won’t give up on confirming President Barack Obama’s top civil rights nominee, Debo P. Adegbile, who was voted down the previous day.

“I have such high regard for him as a person,” Reid said in his Capitol Hill office. “His life story is really the American dream. Such a modest, really smart man.”

Adegbile, a nominee to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, received just 47 votes on the Senate floor Tuesday, falling short of the 50 needed to move forward. Seven Democrats and every Republican torpedoed the nomination, citing his past as a lawyer for the NAACP, when he defended Mumia Abu Jamal, who was convicted in 1981 of killing a police officer.

Reid switched his vote to ‘no’ in the end, in order to reserve his right to bring up the nomination again. The White House hasn’t withdrawn the nomination. The majority leader said he intends to try again to confirm Adegbile.

“What an injustice,” Reid told reporters on Thursday. “He’s a good, good lawyer. … I’m not going to give up on him.”

Reid said he spent an hour with Adegbile and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) before deciding to bring up the nomination, and they “didn’t do it lightly.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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