President Barack Obama has come under fire from both House Democrats and civil rights leaders for the nominees he has chosen to fill four federal bench vacancies in Georgia's Northern District.
The office of Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who appeared at a news conference alongside some of his fellow lawmakers in Atlanta on Monday, issued a statement saying, "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," reports The Hill
The nominees include Mark Howard Cohen, who defended Georgia's voter ID law in court, and Michael Boggs, who, as a state legislator in 2001, voted against changing the Georgia state flag to remove the Confederate battle emblem.
Those joining Lewis in his condemnation of Obama's picks were Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson and David Scott, as well as civil rights leaders Joseph Lowery and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, The Hill reports.
"Martin Luther King Jr., if he were here this day, he would tell the president not to make these appointments," Scott said at the news conference, The Washington Times also reported
The news conference took place inside the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King served as pastor.
Speaking later on CNN
, Lowery, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said, "We recognize that somebody in his administration has done [the president] a disservice in giving him these names, and he made a mistake in accepting them."
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According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution
, the nominations were part of a deal the administration made with Georgia Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson in exchange for their approving Obama's pick for the Eleventh Circuit court.
"I think there's always side deals," Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told The Washington Times.
"There are always compromises to be brokered. But this one, I think, is particularly thorny because of the diversity and racial issues involved. The president has been very strong about diversity on the bench. That's what makes this surprising, this group of nominees," he said.
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