ATLANTA — A group of politicians and community activists on Monday said they would like to see President Barack Obama withdraw his nominees for judgeships in two of Georgia’s federal courts, saying the candidates do not reflect the area’s diversity and were chosen with little public input.
The activists gathered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to express their concerns about the nominees for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, according to news media reports.
The group includes U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) whose district covers portions of the Atlanta area; Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson and David Scott; and civil rights activists C.T. Vivian and the Rev. Joseph Lowery.
“The president of the United States and the White House have made a terrible, tragic mistake,” Scott said.
Obama on Thursday nominated U.S. District Court Judge Julie E. Carnes to serve in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He nominated Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael P. Boggs; Atlanta attorneys Mark Howard Cohen and Leigh Martin May; and DeKalb County State Court Judge Eleanor Louise Ross to serve in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Group leaders said they are concerned that Boggs advocated to keep the Confederate battle emblem as part of the state flag when he was a state senator, and for voting against marriage equality and abortion rights.
The group also targeted Cohen, chief of staff for former Democratic Gov. Zell Miller. Critics have said they’re concerned about Cohen’s past support of stricter voter ID laws. Opponents say the laws undercut minority voter turnout.
Republican U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss said in a joint statement that “this is a well-qualified group of nominees,” according to WXIA-TV.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the selections were based on a deal the White House made with Georgia’s Republican senators, and the nominees must now be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
University of Richmond Law professor Carl Tobias, who studies the federal judicial nomination process, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that it would be a long shot for Obama to withdraw the nominees at this point.
“I don’t know how you have a happy resolution at this point, because it’s a package deal: It’s all or nothing,” he said.