Senate blocks Obama's pick for civil rights post
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's civil rights division has failed a Senate test vote and his confirmation is in jeopardy.
The vote was 47-52, short of the needed majority.
The controversy over Debo Adegbile stems from legal representation of a man imprisoned in the murder of a Philadelphia policeman decades ago. Adegbile was at the NAACP Legal Defense fund when the organization began representing Mumia Abu-Jama, who was appealing his conviction in the killing in 1981 of a police officer.
Obama called the Senate's failure to move ahead with the nomination a "travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant."
The president said Adegbile's nomination was defeated solely because of his legal representation of a defendant, and that that is contrary to the American system of justice.
It was unclear what the next step will be for his supporters. Several Democrats joined all Senate Republicans in voting to prevent confirmation. The vote marked the first time a nominee has stalled since Democrats restricted critics' abilities to block confirmations.