During a Thursday sitdown with reporters, Reid said that Adegbile, a respected civil rights lawyer who previously led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, met privately with Reid and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for nearly an hour before the vote. The three of them went through the pros and cons of proceeding with what would likely be a loss. In the end, Adegbile said he wouldn’t withdraw his name, even though Republicans and even some Democrats were ready to block him over the fact that he once helped get convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jabal off death row.
“He said, ‘I’m 47 years old. … I’ve spent all my life trying to do the right thing,’” Reid said. “‘I didn’t step into a courtroom for this man. I didn’t write a word for the briefs for this man. … I’ve done nothing wrong. I think if I’m going to be voted down, it’s a good time to start a discussion on civil rights in America.’”