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Voting-rights champion tapped to lead DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

21st November 2013   ·   0 Comments

Former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Debo Adegbile has been tapped by the Obama administration to serve as Asst. Attorney General for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Justice.

President Obama nominated Adegbile, senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, to take over as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The former head of that division, Thomas Perez, has been tapped to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. While Adegbile served as an attorney for the Senate Judiciary, working primarily on creating a new Voting Rights Act bill. Adegbile is perhaps best known as the attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who argued on behalf of preserving the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. Adegbile defended it twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully defending it when it was challenged in 2006, and again this past February before Chief Roberts’ court remove key provisions of the landmark civil rights bill. Adegbile also represented Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a federal voting rights lawsuit shortly after the storm.

“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.

Mr. Adegbile held various positions at LDF during a 10-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,” Haywood added.

This article originally published in the November 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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