Senate Democrats killed the filibuster for nominations because they wanted to be able to confirm the president's choices for top administration positions even if Republicans were united in opposition. From now on, Democrats ruled, nominations would be confirmed by a simple majority vote. With 55 Democrats in the Senate, and as few as 51 required for confirmation, the change virtually guaranteed success for the president's nominees.
But even a rule change was not enough to save the nomination of Debo Adegbile, the former NAACP Legal Defense Fund official who was the president's choice to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Seven Democrats -- Bob Casey, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, and John Walsh -- abandoned Abegdile Wednesday in a vote to move forward with the nomination. (Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to 'no' at the end, but that was just a procedural maneuver to allow for possible future reconsideration of the matter.) The final vote on Adegbile, including Reid's switch, was 52-47.Five of the seven Democrats -- Donnelly (Indiana), Manchin (West Virginia), Pryor (Arkansas), Heitkamp (North Dakota), and Walsh (Montana) come from states that Mitt Romney carried.
Casey represents Pennsylvania, an Obama state. But it was also the state of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, who died at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Adegbile worked on a legal brief in Abu-Jamal's defense. Delaware is in the Philadelphia media market, which may also explain Coons's vote.