Once considered the world’s best-known death row inmate, Abu-Jamal has written books from his prison cell, had his cause championed by prominent civil rights advocates including Cornel West and Desmond Tutu, and had a street in Paris named in his honor.
And now his case is threatening Debo P. Adegbile’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Adegbile, a voting rights expert and former director of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, was involved in a handful of the dozens of appeals and court briefs filed on behalf of Abu-Jamal. The nomination has been opposed by national law enforcement groups.
Under new Senate rules approved in November, Adegbile will need to secure a simple majority of senators — 51 votes — to clear a procedural hurdle before he is confirmed. But he is at risk of falling short of the votes needed because he cannot count on Democrats, especially those locked in vulnerable reelection bids, to support their president’s choice.