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4:08pm February 6, 2014

Valerie Jarrett Meets with Black Caucus on Judicial Nominees

Judges1

Yesterday, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett met with five members of the Black Caucus on the issue of judicial nominees.

download-2Jarrett met with Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) on judicial nominees.

Jarrett then met with a larger group of Black Caucus members on a myriad of issues, including an upcoming new initiative focused on Black males, at their weekly meeting.

Though several members, such as Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Del. Norton, said the meeting with Jarrett went well, Rep. David Scott and other members of the Georgia delegation were not happy.

The President’s nomination of an attorney who was the lead counsel in Georgia’s voter ID case remains a concern.

“Do you think that George Bush would have been able to do this — or any white President — would have been able to do this? No,” Rep. Scott said intensely regarding that particular nominee.

It is on us. It’s not just about Obama who made these decisions. He’s gone in three years. These folks are gonna be there forever. And they will know that it was a Black man that put him on there with this kind of heavy baggage,” the Georgia Democrat added.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) who was also in the five-member meeting with Jarrett, said, “We’re glad that the President has a commitment to diversity, and it would be natural that he have that commitment.  But, there are some other issues that we’ve got to be concerned about. And some of our members from the South would lose their credibility with their constituents if they did not rise up and say, ‘This person goes beyond any kind of acceptable code.’”

A January 16 letter sent to President Obama and signed by 41 member of the Black Caucus urged diversity on federal nominees.   It also expressed concerns that a deal might be made on judges in Alabama that was similar to the deal made in Georgia.  The letter also called for a refrain from selecting white nominees until the percentage of Black nominees moves closer to the state of Alabama’s Black population, which is 26%.

|| RELATED: Obama 18%, Clinton 16%: Obama Has Appointed Higher % of Black Judges So Far ||
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RELATED: Obama’s Ga. supporters protesting his court nominees ||

A sentence from the letter, primarily authored by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, read:

Given the history of judicial appointments in Alabama, we strongly encourage you to nominate qualified African Americans to the district court bench until the court’s racial composition reasonably reflects the state’s black population… In the 33 years … there have been 26 judicial appointments in the state and only one was African American.”

After the larger CBC meeting with Jarrett, Rep. Sewell would not talk on whether her concerns were addressed.

Four days before Christmas, President Obama nominated two judges from Georgia that several Black Caucus members were unhappy with.  President Obama nominated both Judge Michael Boggs and Mark Cohen to be on the U.S. District Court for the

Boggs

Boggs

Northern District of Georgia. The selections were part of a deal with Georgia’s Republican Senators.

Cohen was the lead attorney arguing in support of Georgia’s voter ID law.  Ironically, the voter ID law that Cohen championed is the same law the Obama Administration is fighting against in Texas.  In 2001, Boggs voted in support of the Confederate battle flag as a member of the Georgia State legislature.

When Jarrett was asked by journalist Mike Lillis of The Hill  whether President Obama might withdraw Cohen or Boggs’ names from consideration, Jarrett said “no.”

markcohen

Cohen

He also added that Georgia Democrats were not consulted by the White House on Cohen and Boggs.

“When you don’t have a member of your own party in the Senate then it is the House Democrats who should be consulted — that’s common courtesy. That was not done. This was done in secret. The nominations were released on Christmas Eve,” Scott said.  “This is a terrible mistake. History will record it as such. And it breaks my heart that it’s a Black President,” the Georgia Democrat added.

Back in October 2013, the Atlanta NAACP, spoke out against Boggs’ even before he was nominated for the federal bench. In December, Reps. John Lewis, Hank Johnson and David Scott joined Rev. Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian at a press conference at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to protest the nominations of Boggs and Cohen.

Currently more Black judges have been confirmed under President Obama than any other President in history.  So far, 19% of the federal judges confirmed have been Black, under President Clinton it was 16% and under President Bush it was 8%. President Obama has appointed more Black women to the federal court than any President with 17.

A handout with President Obama’s stats on diversity regarding his judicial nominees was given out to members during the meeting.

“This is a constant work in progress,” Jarrett told The Hill on Wednesday. “We’re very proud of our track record so far, but that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in always looking for new ways the bench can reflect the diversity of our country.”

Both Lewis and Scott have contacted Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy to testify against Boggs and Cohen.

 



About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer and political analyst. She created the blog Crewof42, a blog that covers African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin and on WHUR, WURD, and WVON. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment at USAToday.com and ABC News. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail anytime: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42




 
 

 
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5 Comments


  1. […] district court. The Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders met with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett at the White House to push the administration to drop Boggs and other nominees for the Georgia […]


  2. […] district court. The Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders met with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett at the White House to push the administration to drop Boggs and other nominees for the Georgia […]


  3. […] district court. The Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders met with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett at the White House to push the administration to drop Boggs and other nominees for the Georgia […]


  4. ana

    We The People/Advocating Diversity and Integrity in American Justice: The State of Alabama;Supreme Court,African American Judges-0….Court of Criminal Appeals 0….Court of Civil Appeals 0…Circuit Court12…..Latino/Hispanic Judges;Supreme Court 0…Court of Criminal Appeals 0….Court of Civil Appeals 0….Circuit Court 0….Native American Judges; Supreme Court 0…..Court of Criminal Appeals 0….Court of Civil Appeals 0….Circuit Court 0…..Georgia; Supreme Court…African American/Black Judges-2….Court of Criminal Appeals 2…Superior Court/Circuit Court 20….Latino/Hispanic Judges 0….Supreme Court 0….District Court of Appeals 0…..Superior Court/Circuit Court 0…..Native American Judges 0…..Supreme Court 0….District Court of Appeals 0….Superior Court/Circuit Court 0….We need more Diversity and Fairness on The Bench to Reflect our Society as a Whole.


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