Rubio nixes support for openly gay black judge to federal court
|Marco Rubio, (R-FL) via NBC News' Meet The Press|
WASHINGTON -- Florida Republican U. S. Senator Marco Rubio has withdrawn his support for Judge William Thomas’s nomination to the Federal bench. Thomas, an openly gay black Miami, Florida resident was nominated ten months ago by President Obama with Rubio's support and the support of Florida's other Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson.
Nominees must secure the approval of both of their senators in their home state for the confirmation process to move forward in the Senate,
Judge Thomas, who currently serves on the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, came under criticism from Rubio who said he was withdrawing his support of Thomas, expressing concerns about the judge’s actions in two criminal cases.
The New York Times reported that Rubio, who after a lengthy delay approved the nomination last week of another black Florida judge to the federal bench, said in a statement on Wednesday that he had concerns about Judge Thomas’s “fitness” for the federal bench.
“Those concerns include questions about his judicial temperament and his willingness to impose appropriate criminal sentences,” Rubio said.
Mr. Rubio took issue with Judge Thomas’s actions in two criminal cases. But in one of the cases, involving a sentencing in a hit-and-run, Mr. Rubio’s criticism was blunted by both the lead prosecutor in the case and the administrative judge for 11th Judicial Circuit criminal division. Both of them wrote letters to Senator Rubio, who felt the sentence was too lenient, saying that Judge Thomas acted fairly and well within the law.
Yolanda Strader, president of Miami’s largest association for black lawyers said,
“As much as I would like to think that politics has nothing to do with this, it looks as if it does. It would be unfair to prevent a well-qualified judicial nominee from proceeding with the nomination process because he is an openly gay black male.”
Rubio and other republicans have also come under fire from the Congressional Black Caucus for holding up President Obama's judicial nominations several of whom are black judges. The Caucus said that out of 787 federal positions, only 95 are held by black judges.
“That is a slender reed for Senator Rubio to hang this on,” said Representative Alcee Hastings, a Democrat from Rubio's state referring to the two court cases. “Decisions in this country need to be made by females and Latinos and Asians and blacks.”