Today, it's Potter's City Paper. Potter frames his piece around Debo Adegbile:
Last month, Casey and Toomey led a Senate vote rejecting President Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's civil-rights division, Debo Adegbile. Adegbile's sin? While at the NAACP, he wrote a legal brief for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.That was then, this is now.
Adegbile's argument — that Abu-Jamal's jury was discriminatory — was ultimately seconded by a judge. Before the Senate's vote, the head of the American Bar Association said Adegbile's brief "should be commended, not condemned." But not, apparently, if you're defending the rights of unpopular people: Casey explained his opposition to Adegible by noting Faulkner's death "and the events that followed ... have left open wounds."
Adegbile "promoted division among the American people, and blocked justice for [Faulkner's] family," said Toomey.
But according to liberal group Keystone Progress, Toomey and Casey have been planning to grant a federal judgeship to a Pittsburgh attorney ... despite criticism that he may be divisive, too.And so on and so forth. Potter fades the argument a bit:
In late March, Keystone Progress raised flags about a purported "backroom deal" to make David J. Porter a federal district court judge.
Not everyone agrees. "Even if everything they say about [Porter] is true, it's not that significant," says Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University law professor who often comments on law and politics. The real power in the federal judiciary, he said, is on appeals courts: "You don't make law at the district court level" where Porter would serve. "You apply it as written."While I can't disagree with what Ledewitz said about where the power resides in the federal judiciary (indeed Allegheny Counsel member Heather Heidelbaugh said something similar to the P-G), I'd have to point something out: In the future, when it comes time to nominate someone for one of those appeals court judgeships, where would they get the candidates? Having Porter on the district court gives him a better shot at moving up, doesn't it?
If anything, he surmises, "I think [Porter] has come up because of anger over [Adegbile]: ‘Why are we making deals with these people, when they turn on an honorable man this way?'"
Ledewitz himself calls Adegbile's treatment "despicable. ... The idea that a lawyer is tainted by representation in death-penalty cases is disgusting." But as Congressional gridlock has left empty federal courtrooms across the state, Ledewitz says, "I can understand Sen. Casey making this deal."