Point of View Columns

Living in the Land of No

The constant, consistent and persistent efforts to obstruct, erode and diminish every aspect of the Obama Administration are as regular as the heartbeat of a malignant creature. Ever since his inauguration in 2009, President Obama has been confronted with a seemingly seamless wall of opposition by the right wing of the right wing, and sometimes by members of his own party. The recent debacle concerning his appointment of Debo Adegbile to the lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is a sad case in point.

Debo Adegbile is an outstanding attorney whose many accomplishments include leading the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, one of the premier historical forces for good and justice in this country. A graduate of New York University Law School and currently senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, one would think that his confirmation by the same United States Senate where he works would be merely a procedural matter. And one would be thinking wrong because in these days and times we live in The Land of No – certainly when it comes to All Things Obama.

In an act that reeks of hypocrisy, bigotry and double standards, the Teapublican rightward wing in the Senate opposed Mr. Adegbile’s nomination by President Obama. The gossamer fig leaf for the general opposition by the Teapublicans is that Mr. Adegbile participated as an attorney in the successful appeal to prevent Mumia Abu-Jamal from receiving the death penalty.

One can begin with the fact that the Constitution and the United States Supreme Court have clearly established that all citizens of this country have a right to a fair trial and counsel. It is also axiomatic that attorneys who ensure that every person receives representation in a criminal case are not to be characterized by the crimes for which that person is charged.

If a doctor treats a murderer for an illness, that doctor is not criticized. If a priest, minister, rabbi or imam counsels a rapist in prison, that person is not reviled. Until the matter of Mr. Adegbile, no attorney has been criticized for representing a defendant in need of counsel, no matter how reprehensible the crime.

Yet the Teapublican wing of the Senate, along with some Democrats who clearly live in fear of the right wing, opposed Mr. Adegbile’s nomination and to date it languishes in the procedural limbo of the Senate where many nominations and much legislation go to die. And this opposition is false and transparently hypocritical because of the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts.

As an attorney, Chief Justice Roberts did pro bono legal work for death row inmates, including a serial killer. During his nomination to be Chief Justice this legal work was never raised as a point of criticism or a reason for opposition to his nomination. And it has certainly never been raised since he has been on the Supreme Court. And it never will be raised by the Teapublicans because who it is not, and should not be an issue.

That is, unless the issue of an attorney’s clients can be used to block a nomination by President Obama.

It is shameful that the shameless oppositional strategy of the Teapublicans continues 24/7 and will until the day that Barack Obama leaves the presidency. In the meantime not only does his Administration suffer, the American people suffer.

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