August 9, 2022

Civil rights leaders slam Obama on judicial picks

The Obama administration is under fire from powerful House Democrats and some in the civil rights community for its recent picks to fill four judicial vacancies on Georgia’s Northern District federal bench.

Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat (Associated Press file photo)

Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat (Associated Press file photo)

The rift came into the spotlight during a Monday morning press conference, where civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, and others urged the White House to withdraw its four Dec. 19 nominations.

“The group cites serious concerns that the proposed candidates do not adequately reflect the diversity of the northern district and that the selection process lacked meaningful community input,” the coalition of critics said in a statement. “Additionally, the coalition finds it troubling that several of the nominees include persons who have advocated in favor of Georgia’s voter ID laws and for including the Confederate Battle Emblem as part of the Georgia State Flag.”

One of the nominees, Mark Howard Cohen, defended Georgia’s controversial voter ID laws against legal challenges. Such laws have come under fire from civil-rights groups who believe they’ll disproportionately affect minority voters.

Also, Mr. Lewis and others find judicial nominee Michael Boggs objectionable because in 2001 he voted against changing the Georgia state flag during his time as a state legislator.

The coalition also objects to the other two nominees for Georgia’s Northern District court: Leigh Martin May and Eleanor Louise Ross.

Three of the nominees are white. One, Ms. Ross, is black.

In addition to Mr. Lewis, Reps. David Scott and Hank Johnson, Georgia Democrats, also spoke at Monday’s news conference, as did civil rights leaders and representatives from the Georgia Association of Black Women attorneys, Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys, the NAACP and other groups.