Ga. Dem blasts Obama's court nominees

Greg Nash

Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) wants to testify against several prospective federal judges in Georgia whom President Obama nominated in late December.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Friday, Scott requested to appear and testify at nomination hearings for federal judges for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. 

Democrats, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (Ga.), have lashed out at the White House in recent weeks because of the nominations. 

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Mark Cohen, a nominee for the Georgia court, defended the state’s voter ID law in court, for example. Cohen did so for the Democratic attorney general, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted.

Obama also nominated Judge Michael Boggs for the same district court. Boggs previously voted as a state legislator to keep the state’s 1956 state flag, which includes a Confederate battle logo. 

The president also nominated only one black person to the bench, a Republican.

“The Democratic Congressional delegation from Georgia was shut out from any input in the selection process by the White House,” Scott said in the letter. “Further, civil rights groups, the minority legal community, women leaders in the legal community, the LGBT legal community, and state Democratic officials were also kept in the dark about the secret list drafted by the White House.”

The White House announced the nominations during “an opportune time to avoid negative publicity,” the week before Christmas, Scott added. 

A few days later, Lewis joined with other civil rights leaders and his congressional colleagues from Georgia and called on Obama to withdraw his nominees.

At the time, a White House aide told the Democrats that Georgia’s senators could employ the “blue slip” rule, which allows senators to block judicial nominees related to their states. Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson would have that ability.  

It’s unlikely the Obama administration would withdraw any of them. They were selected as a result of a deal the White House reached with the two Republican senators in September. They agreed that if Obama offers three GOP-backed nominees, the Georgia senators would accept Obama’s picks, whose nominations they had previously held up. 

A Judiciary Committee aide told The Hill Tuesday it's unclear when the hearing would happen. She said the committee is currently working through a backlog of nominations that were returned to the White House and renominated.

--This report was updated at 2:08 p.m.