WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, issued the following statement Wednesday following his vote against the nomination of Debo Adegbile for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
“Protecting the civil rights of every American is one of the Department of Justice’s most important responsibilities, requiring the Assistant Attorney General who leads the Civil Rights Division to be uniquely qualified. I have met with Debo Adegbile and have listened to his strong advocates in the Administration, in the Senate, and in the national civil rights community. There is no question that Mr. Adegbile has had a significant and broad career as a leading civil rights advocate, and would be an asset to the Justice Department, but at a time when the Civil Rights Division urgently needs better relations with the law enforcement community, I was troubled by the idea of voting for an Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights who would face such visceral opposition from law enforcement on his first day on the job.
“The vote I cast today was one of the most difficult I have taken since joining the Senate, but I believe it to be right for the people I represent. Last month, I voted in the Judiciary Committee to move his nomination to the Senate floor because I believed his nomination should be debated and considered by the full Senate. As a lawyer, I understand the importance of having legal advocates willing to fight for even the most despicable clients, and I embrace the proposition that an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client.
“The decades-long public campaign by others, however, to elevate a heinous, cold-blooded killer to the status of a political prisoner and folk hero has caused tremendous pain to the widow of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and shown great disrespect for law enforcement officers and families throughout our region. These factors have led me to cast a vote today that is more about listening to and respecting their concerns than about the innate qualifications of this nominee.”