Updated 5:23 p.m.
Civil rights groups are applauding President Barack Obama's nomination Thursday night of Debo Adegbile, one of their own, to head the Department of Justice civil rights division.
"Debo Adegbile is one of the pre-eminent civil rights litigators of his generation," said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who led a telephone conference call today on the nomination. Henderson said he hopes and expects the Senate to confirm Adegbile for the position swiftly and with bipartisan support.
"We are absolutely thrilled that President Obama nominated one of our very own," said Leslie Proll, director of the Washington office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) where Adegbile worked for a decade.
Adegbile, 46, would be the fourth head of the civil rights division with LDF experience, following in the footsteps of Drew Days III, Deval Patrick and Bill Lann Lee. Sherrilyn Ifill, the current president and director counsel of the fund, said Adegbile is superbly qualified for the "critical work" of the division because of his "deep experience and understanding of civil rights litigation and civil rights law."