No vote. The Senate has rejected a controversial Justice Department nominee who worked on behalf of well-known cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Seven Democrats joined the entire Republican delegation in voting against Debo Adegbile, nominated as the department’s Civil Rights Division director. The Fraternal Order of Police called the nomination a “thumb in the eye of our nation’s law enforcement officers.”Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that while Abu-Jamal was a “bad guy,”he was entitled to a lawyer. Critics say Adegbile took Abu-Jamal’s case, which was being handled by the Legal Defense Fund, to make a political statement. Abu-Jamal killed Philadelphia officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. He claimed discrimination, and a court eventually overturned his death sentence but left his conviction intact. Adegbile is the first of President Barack Obama’s nominees to fail on a Senate test vote since Democrats changed the rules to allow approval of some nominees with a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 votes.
Frivolous suit? A teenager in New Jersey is suing her parents to force them to support her while she finishes high school and pay her college tuition. Rachel Canning claims her parents threw her out of the house when she turned 18. Sean and Elizabeth Canning say their daughter left on her own because she didn’t want to follow their rules. She’s been living with a friend, whose parents are paying her legal bills. Yesterday, a judge denied the girl’s request to force her parents to pay the outstanding tuition at her private high school and cover her current living expenses. He’ll decide next month whether the parents are obligated to pay for her college.
Legal joint. The Washington, D.C., city council voted yesterday to decriminalize marijuana consumption in private homes. The decision puts the city at odds with federal law, although the Obama administration has said it will not pursue prosecutions in cities or states that allow pot for recreational use. Although the bill removes criminal penalties, anyone caught smoking pot at home would face a fine. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has said he will sign the measure, but it still must go to Congress for its approval, which is much less certain. At least 17 states have made recreational marijuana use legal, or decriminalized it. Washington state and Colorado have legalized the sale of the drug for recreational use. Despite widespread acceptance for marijuana, medical experts warn it’s not as harmless as advocates claim, especially for teens.
Ash Wednesday. President Barack Obama marked Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, with the following statement: “Lent is a season of reflection, repentance, and renewal—a chance to recommit to loving and serving one another, and to deepen our faith in preparation for the Easter celebration to come.”