Corbett, Ridge Comment on Obama’s Nomination of Former Mumia Abu-Jamal Advocate to U.S. Justice Dept. Post

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Tom Ridge today issued a joint statement in response to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Mr. Adegbile pushed the boundaries of appropriate advocacy in supporting the cause of a convicted murderer,” Corbett said. “This nomination is an insult to the family and memory of Officer Daniel Faulkner.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted on July 2, 1982 for the brutal murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death the following day. Adegbile was a lead attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who later represented Abu-Jamal in getting his death sentence overturned.

Scores of public officials have condemned the Adegbile nomination as a result of, among other things, his involvement in the Abu-Jamal case, including U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and Philadelphia District AttorneySeth Williams.

“The President’s nomination of Mr. Adegbile raises serious concerns given his previous affiliation with Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner,” Ridge said.

“Despite already being capably represented by a well-funded legal team, Mr. Adegbile chose to get involved in the defense of Abu-Jamal, whose death penalty conviction was later overturned.”

“Police officers put their lives on the line every day,” Ridge said. “Officer Faulkner, only 25 years old at the time of his death, made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the city he loved. I urge a thoughtful and comprehensive review by the Judiciary Committee of Mr. Adegbile’s past associations with Abu-Jamal before approving his nomination.”

“I call on the Senate to take a long look at Mr. Adegbile’s track record of radical positions in the legal arena and reject this nomination,” Corbett said.

Obama announced his nomination of Adegbile to head the U.S. Civil Rights Division in November of last year and confirmation hearings have taken place in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A final vote on Adegbile’s confirmation is expected to take place Thursday.

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