LDF applauded today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to report favorably the nomination of Debo Adegbile to be the next Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
“We are one step closer to the confirmation of an exceptionally talented leader for the Civil Rights Division,” said Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office. “Debo’s personal background, his vast litigation experience and his passion for civil rights make him a superb choice for this important position. We look forward to his speedy confirmation by the full Senate,” Proll added.
Adegbile held several leadership roles with LDF before becoming senior counsel to Chairman Patrick Leahy. He spearheaded and supervised litigation on a range of civil rights issues involving education, employment, voting and criminal justice. During his tenure at LDF, he argued two cases before the Supreme Court in defense of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act — Shelby County v. Holder and Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder.
Known as a consensus builder in both his litigation and advocacy, Adegbile commands support from all corners of the law. He is backed by state attorneys general, prosecutors, Supreme Court lawyers, a bipartisan group of members of the bar, and dozens of civil rights organizations whose communities he will be charged with protecting as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Officials from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement attended today’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote in demonstration of their strong support for Adegbile.
Today, Debo Adegbile, nominated to become the next Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division, presented testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The following is a statement from Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Update 01/09/2014: Click here for a link to LDF’s statement regarding representing Mumia Abu-Jamal
“With poise, humor and straightforward answers, Debo Adegbile, deftly managed his presentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to become the next Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division.
Leaders from major civil rights organizations and unions attended the hearing in a powerful show of support for Adegbile’s nomination. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) described Debo Adegbile’s journey from instances of homelessness as a child to today’s confirmation hearing as “a remarkable example of the American dream.” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) praised “LDF and other civil rights organizations” that “serve a critical role in our justice system.”
During the hearing, Adegbile spoke about his work at LDF defending the civil rights of every American. “We can and must do more to protect civil rights. I’ve seen the impact that enforcing civil rights can have on real peoples’ lives,” Adegbile said during his testimony. “If confirmed as Assistant Attorney General, the people I will be serving are the people of the United States of America,” Adegbile added.
As Senators mangled the pronunciation of his name, Adegbile joked with good nature, assigning “partial credit” to those Senators who made the effort to pronounce his last name correctly. Adegbile is the son of a Nigerian father and an Irish mother. He was raised in New York City.
With his family and friends (including some from grade school) arrayed behind him, Adegbile described his commitment to civil rights, reminding the Committee, “you cannot have too much justice.”
Adegbile is eminently qualified to be the next Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. He served as Litigation Director and Acting Director-Counsel at LDF. He defended and argued twice in the Supreme Court in defense of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. For years, Debo Adegbile has worked tirelessly to defend the American promise of equality for all of its citizens.
This is the fourth time that a former LDF lawyer has been nominated to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. It is expected that a vote and confirmation for Mr. Adegbile will take place in the coming weeks.”
“I am very pleased that President Obama has nominated Debo Adegbile to be the next Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Our country needs someone like Debo with significant experience in voting rights to protect the deeply held American value that each person has the right to a voice in our democracy. Debo has worked tirelessly to ensure that our nation lives up to its promise of equality for all Americans,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), the leading civil rights law firm in America and a separate entity from the NAACP.
“He is highly respected as one of the Nation’s leading civil rights attorneys,” continued Ifill. “Debo has precisely the type of broad civil rights experience that is required at this pivotal moment in our country.”
Mr. Adegbile held various positions at LDF during a ten-year period (2003-2013), including Acting President and Director-Counsel, Director of Litigation and Special Counsel. Mr. Adegbile contributed to LDF’s work on education, economic justice and criminal justice, and his legal work on voting rights brought him to the center of two of the most important recent civil rights cases in a generation.
While at LDF, Mr. Adegbile twice defended the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court (Shelby County v. Holder, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder). He also represented evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in the first post-Katrina federal voting rights lawsuit.
“I deeply admire and respect Debo’s considerable legal acumen, his tireless work ethic, and his commitment to practicing law at the highest levels with professionalism and integrity. Debo possesses an unwavering commitment to advancing equality for all Americans,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group, who worked with Mr. Adegbile for nearly a decade.
“Debo is an example of what can be possible for every child in America when we open the doors of opportunity. As a child, Debo and his single mother fought grinding poverty and homelessness in New York City. Debo later financed his college and law school education with scholarships, employment and loans, and ultimately twice argued in the United States Supreme Court. These experiences have influenced his commitment to protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us, and our nation will benefit from his service,” continued Haygood.