Debo Adegbile, Obama’s pick to head the Civil Rights Division, was rejected by the Senate, (ostensibly) because he assisted in a successful appeal in a death penalty case:
In other words, the extraordinary stupid arguments that Republican Senators raised about Abu-Jamal shouldn’t be allowed to conceal their real agenda: kneecapping federal efforts to do things like protect voting rights, address police brutality, oppose employment discrimination. The Republican rejection of Adegbile is of a piece with a broader anti-civil rights agenda, such as their ongoing efforts to suppress the vote of racial minorities and the poor and a bare majority of the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act based on incoherent arguments with no basis in the text of the Constitution.
So Republican opposition to Adegbile was, while reprehensible, easily explicable. But Democrats control the Senate, and nominees like Adegbile can no longer be filibustered—he lost on a straight up-or-down vote. So it’s worth directing particular ire at the 7 Democratic senators who joined the Republican war on civil rights.
Senate Republicans are going to do anything they can to inhibit federal civil rights enforcement, up to and including cynical, demagogic campaigns against dedicated public servants. But for 7 Democrats to join the mob is an act of cowardice contrary to the values that the head of the Civil Rights Division is supposed to uphold. To reject the a nominee to head the Civil Rights division because … of his successful support for civil rights is a cruel irony indeed.