U.S. Senate Panel Approves Controversial Civil-Rights Nominee
President Obama's pick to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division easily cleared his first hurdle toward confirmation Thursday, despite mounting criticism of his work appealing the death sentence of Philadelphia cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In a 10-8 vote along party lines, the Senate Judiciary Committee backed the nomination of 46-year-old civil rights attorney Debo Adegbile.
The decision set the stage for a full Senate showdown later this year that is all but sure to rip scabs off three decades of hard feelings surrounding the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
"I am physically, emotionally, and mentally distressed that I was not able to be in that room. This is personal to me," said Faulkner's widow, Maureen, in an interview with Fox News. She was denied an opportunity to testify before the committee.
Within hours of the decision, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who has emerged as one of Adegbile's chief critics, began lobbying his colleagues to oppose the nomination.