Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Georgia Federal Judicial Nominees Out of Step

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December 23, 2013
Statement of Janice L. Mathis for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition on Federal Judicial Appointments in Georgia 

(December 23, 2013 – Atlanta, Georgia) Only two of Georgia’s federal trial court judges are African American in a state that is more than 30% black.  Despite appeals to the Administration from members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation, President Obama has failed to name an African American woman to fill vacancies on the 11th Circuit, one of America’s most conservative and most out of touch with mainstream America.  Only one of the six nominees is African American.   

Racial diversity is important to promote public confidence in the judiciary. But so is diversity of experience, gender and orientation.  One of the President’s six nominees to the federal bench voted to keep the Confederate battle symbol on the state flag and another defended draconian voter identification measures aimed at suppressing the black and Hispanic vote.  We can do better than this. 

Lifetime federal judicial appointees will serve long after President Obama’s second term ends.  History will judge whether his judicial appointments are accountable to the communities they serve.  Abraham Lincoln is greatly admired by President Obama.  Lincoln’s courage in the face of fierce opposition to the Reconstruction Amendments and his insistence that America experience a “new birth of freedom” are why he “belongs to the ages.”  

Half of all African Americans live in the South.  Demographic data indicate that the voices and aspirations of blacks, Hispanics, women and the LGBT community in Southern states like Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas will be increasingly prevalent in decades to come.  These nominees are out of step with those aspirations and are unworthy of the nation’s first African American President.   

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition joins Congressmen Hank Johnson, David Scott, the NAACP, Advocacy for Action, SCLC, the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, the Gate City Bar, National Action Network and a host of others in calling for this Administration to start over and offer a slate of judicial nominees that looks like the citizens of Georgia and the South.  To do less is to fail those who put so much time, talent and treasure into assuring the President’s election. 

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., a 2000 Medal of Freedom recipient, agrees with Georgia’s three Medal of Freedom recipients (Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian) in strongly urging President Obama and his Administration to populate the federal judiciary in Georgia, in the 11th Circuit and in the nation with highly qualified individuals who are representative of the communities that they serve.  Judicial diversity promotes impartiality by ensuring that no one viewpoint, perspective, or set of values can persistently dominate legal decision making. 







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