Congress Ethics Justice Racism

The Only Anti-American Person in the Room is Pat Toomey


During his speech at CPAC — the GOP’s version of vacation bible school — Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) said one of the most distinctly anti-Americans I can think of while accusing Debo Adegbile of being anti-American.

“This was always about the principle that no one should be able to make a mockery of our criminal justice system, fan the flames of racial strife in America, join a dishonest, international anti-American campaign, along the way drag the family of a fallen police officer with three decades of health and then be burned by most of the Justice Department,” Toomey said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

According to Toomey, performing your duty on behalf of the defense means you are making a ‘mockery of the criminal justice system.’ And not only that; defending someone means you’re anti-American.

Last time I checked everyone in America is entitled to a defense. That is the foundation of our criminal justice system.

Pat Toomey is more or less saying that not everyone deserves a defense; that not everyone should be granted equal protection under the law.

Toomey’s rant at CPAC was exceptionally anti-American and, from my perspective, it borders on the fascist to accuse someone of being anti-American for defending someone you have deemed anti-American.

If you’re unfamiliar with Adegbile’s past, The Atlantic has a brief history lesson.

The most significant opposition to Adegbile’s nomination came in response to his participation in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the man convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Adegbile did not represent the defendant at trial. He did not declare his client to be innocent. Instead, he worked on a series of briefs supporting an appeal that made a legitimate legal argument. He did, in other words, precisely what he was expected to do on behalf of an organization dedicated to civil rights. For this he was deemed unfit to run the Civil Rights Division.

As many others have pointed out, this idea that nominees should be held accountable for the clients they defended in the past is applied selectively.

Given that not everyone, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, isn’t held to the same standard, I’m not willing accept that this had nothing to do with race.

To quote Senator Tom Harkin:

“Here is the message we sent today: if you’re a young white person and you go to work for a law firm, you’re a lawyer sworn into the bar … and a law firm assigns you to defend a person who killed eight people in cold blood … you might wind up to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Opposing a nominee for the Civil Rights Division for acting as defense is the true mockery of our criminal justice system.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Toomey is just parroting the wingnut talking points. Fox has been all over this line for the past week. The whole lot of them are un-American.

  • zirgar

    Ashby, you’d stop being upset over things like this if you’d just give up the hilariously misguided notion that right-wingers are capable of understanding stuff.

    • D_C_Wilson

      They’re capable of understanding stuff. For example, they understand how to use racially charged code words to push people’s emotional buttons. What they are incapable of is feeling shame.

  • captkurt

    This is just another example of the severely warped view conservatives have of our legal system. If you are one of them, then you are guilty until proven innocent. If you are one of us, you are innocent until proven guilty. It brings to mind a local political add I heard some years back, where the speaker stated “When he served as District Attorney he only had a 50% conviction rate. He let half the criminals get away!” Oh yeah, that’s right. Everyone who is arrested and charged with a crime is guilty. Why do we waste so much time, effort, and money on a judicial system?

    From another angle, I wonder how many CPAC attendees know that, as a colonial lawyer, future second president of the US and Founding Father John Adams defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, and got the majority of them acquitted? That would surely make a few wing nut heads explode.

  • muselet

    No, no, Ashby, you (slightly) misinterpret the maunderings of Pat Toomey. It’s not un-American to represent a criminal defendant. Anyone could become a criminal defendant, after all, even wealthy white Republicans.

    What’s un-American, according to Toomey, is to represent a black criminal defendant who’s appealing a conviction for murdering a police officer. That automatically disqualifies a lawyer from ever serving in the DOJ.

    Pat Toomey is more or less saying that not everyone deserves a defense; that not everyone should be granted equal protection under the law.

    The way I read it, he’s coming right out and saying that, no “more or less” about it.

    Some speakers at CPAC throw red meat to the Republican base, either to curry favor or in an attempt to keep the base from eating them alive. Others really believe the crap they spew from the lectern. Pat Toomey is a member of the latter group.


    • JMAshby

      What’s un-American, according to Toomey, is to represent a black criminal defendant

      • muselet

        The Rs (and the cowardly Ds) who voted not to confirm Debo Adegbile are leaning hard on the “defended a cop-killer” horn. Somehow I doubt they would be making so much of a fuss if Mumia Abu Jamal weren’t black.

        I was probably giving Pat Toomey too much credit by referring to his excuse.


      • mrbrink

        From the start, going back to the cop getting killed, to the trial, to the death sentence being overturned(by conservative judges, mind you)to blocking Debo Adegbile’s nomination, this has been an organized lynch mob with the Fraternal Order of Police right out in front, and the fact that this still leaves a vacancy in a critical department as we enter elections, the rope stretches around the necks of everyone.

  • Robert Scalzi

    I disagree – everyone attending the CPAC convention that is not a reporter is ANTI AMERICAN – they hate it here, they hate our values and should all be shipped off to the ultimate red state – Russia

  • Toolymegapoopoo

    To be honest, I had no idea that this confirmation vote was even happening, but learning about what went down has been jaw-dropping. No surprise that the Republicans all voted against it (it is all they know how to do anymore), but to have 7 gutless Dems side with them just blows my mind. Tom Harkin absolutely shames these cowards with the quote Bob added above. Sickening racists.