Black Caucus Still Unhappy Over Obama Judicial Picks

Thursday, 06 Feb 2014 07:03 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Members of the Congressional Black Caucus remain disappointed with President Barack Obama over his lack of assertiveness in promoting minority judicial candidates,  The Hill reported.

While the displeasure of some CBC members was assuaged after a closed door meeting Wednesday with Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president— and the concurrent White House announcement of five new judicial nominees only one of whom was a white male— some black lawmakers remained discontented.

There are those in the 43-member group who continue to believe the president has not pushed back hard enough against the Republican-controlled Senate where nominees must be confirmed.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he and like-minded CBC members would not allow Obama nominees waiting for Senate confirmation "to languish in some kind of a neo-conservative purgatory" without speaking out.

Georgia Democrat Rep. David Scott lobbied Jarrett to withdraw two nominees on the grounds that one had supported a state bill that would allow the Confederate battle emblem to remain part of Georgia's flag; and another nominee because he supported the state's photo ID law, which Scott sees as a ruse "to keep black folks" from voting.

Scott said he expected more from the nation's first African American president. "Do you think George Bush would have been able to do this, or any white president would have been able to do this? No."

The caucus wants to pressure the White House while at the same time not weakening the president, The Hill reported.

The CBC leadership took a conciliatory line after meeting with Jarrett. Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said her concerns over judicial nominations had "pretty much" been alleviated. "It was a great meeting. Washington D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who heads the caucus's judicial nominations sub-committee, agreed that Jarrett had addressed the concerns of the black lawmakers.

A new page on the White House website shows that of the 63 nominees currently awaiting Senate confirmation, 12 are African American. The site is devoted to demonstrating President Obama's "unprecedented commitment to expanding the diversity of our nation's highest courts."

Meanwhile, the nomination of U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, who is black, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Washington was approved Monday, Reuters reported. Democrats in November voted to curb filibusters against Obama nominees.

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