Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mr. President, Don't Turn Your Back on Us

USA Today reports that:
Some of President Obama's staunchest supporters Monday announced their opposition to his nominees for federal courts in Georgia.

The group, which included civil rights luminaries such as Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rev. C.T. Vivian, Georgia's black congressional delegation and a long list of African-American civil rights groups and legal associations, is protesting six nominees to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Northern District of Georgia. They say the nominees lack diversity and that one defended Georgia's voter-identification law and another supported flying the Confederate flag at the state Capitol.

"Somebody has made a tragic mistake," said Lowery, speaking from the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.'s one-time congregation. "We've not come to attack the president. Somebody did this for him. And we say that he must undo it. It is insulting to come into Georgia in 2013 and bring a slate of nominees that is so unrepresentative of the state."

Lowery backed Obama early in his first presidential campaign when many black leaders were supporting Hillary Clinton; in 2009, Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama also presented Lewis with the award in 2011 and Vivian with it earlier this year.

The group says that only one of the six nominees is African American. Also, they say that nominee Mark Cohen, an Atlanta attorney, argued in favor of Georgia's Voter ID law, which they say aims to suppress black voting power, and that nominee Michael Boggs voted to keep the Confederate battle flag emblem on the state flag when he was a state representative. Cohen and Boggs could not be reached for comment Monday.

The White House supplied statistics to say that its judicial picks are more diverse than those of previous administrations — 18% of Obama's confirmed judges have been African American, compared with 8% for George W. Bush and 16% for Bill Clinton.
Yes, Mr. President. Overall, your judicial nominations have been more diverse than previous administrations. I commend that.

However, your past record does not excuse or justify your current Georgia judicial nominations. As you know, nominee Mark Cohen supported Georgia's voter ID law. Your Attorney General, Eric Holder, is fighting such laws in Texas and North Carolina. Clearly, you know that such laws are designed to suppress the black vote. Why on earth would you nominate a man like Mark Cohen? Why would you trust someone like Mr. Cohen to make crucial decisions on important civil rights cases?

Why would you nominate Michael Boggs, a man who voted to keep the Confederate battle flag emblem on the Georgia state flag? The Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery, racism, Jim Crow and treason. Anyone who embraces such a symbol is not worthy of being a federal judge. The last thing that we need is someone with a Confederate mentality making decisions in important civil rights cases.

Mr. President, African Americans are your most loyal supporters. As your poll numbers continue to decline, we remain by your side. Certainly, we deserve better than this. Mr. President, do not turn your back on us now. Our concerns should be more important than appeasing your political opponents.

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