WH Adviser Jarrett, Black Caucus to Meet on Lack of Judicial Diversity

Image: WH Adviser Jarrett, Black Caucus to Meet on Lack of Judicial Diversity Valerie Jarrett

Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 10:41 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The Congressional Black Caucus is meeting with Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett Wednesday to discuss the administration's judicial nominees, saying they want President Obama to fight for a more diverse federal bench.

CBC members contend that Obama has given in too easily to Republican senators primarily in Southern states because they get to sign off on the nominees in the "blue-slip" system, in which home-state senators approve the pick before the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing, The Hill is reporting.

"Win or lose, we'd feel better if there's a fight," said Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who is part of the CBC's judicial nominations working group. "We have a Herculean task, of course, because of the senators whose conservatism is antithetical to the judicial philosophy of probably anyone who [Obama would prefer]."

"But at the same time, the president ought to be able to appoint anyone he wants," Cleaver added. "And, you know, we want the president to fight for it."

Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina had similar thoughts — that at the very least they want to see Obama put up a fight.

"There needs to be more defiance," Butterfield told The Hill. "The fight is worth it. We learned that from the Civil Rights era. We were defying the traditions ... We were defying the law ... What we want the president to do is push back harder against [Republican] obstructionism."

The concern has grown out of several situations. One example they cite is that Obama nominated only one black judge out of six in Georgia where the population is a third African American, and that one judge is supposedly a Republican.

There is also frustration over the fact that GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina refused to approve the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker through the "blue-slip" process, after he had recommended her to the president. If she had been approved, she would have been the first African-American federal judge to sit on North Carolina's Eastern District bench, The Huffington Post reported.

However, the Obama administration points to the fact that the president has nominated more black judges than either Bush or Clinton. According to the NNPA News Service, Obama has nominated and successfully confirmed more black judges than any president in history.

Butterfield plans to tell Jarrett that they want Obama to push for an "up-or-down vote" on the president's nominees and he wants Democratic leaders in the Senate to consider not sticking to the "blue-slip" system.

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