Senate Blocks Controversial DOJ Nominee

The Senate has blocked the contentious nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The vote was 47-52.

The vote was expected to be so close that Vice President Joe Biden presided in the Senate chamber, available to cast a tie-breaking vote if needed.

Opposition to Adegbile’s nomination stemmed from his role in the representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

McConnell Says Adegbile Simply 'Unfit' for DOJ Nod 1:02

Adegbile worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when the group filed an amicus brief that argued Abu-Jamal’s sentence should be ruled invalid because of racial bias in the jury. The defense fund also worked to overturn Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.

Police groups had urged the Senate to block Adegbile’s nomination.

Eight Democrats joined Republicans to vote no.

In a statement, President Barack Obama called the nomination's failure "a travesty."

"The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice – and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant," he said.