Posted: 11:12 am Thursday, February 6th, 2014

White House sits down with black lawmakers over judicial picks 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

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Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., left, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP file

Top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, said to have the ear of the Obamas more than anyone else in Washington, met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday morning to attempt to assuage their concerns about diversity in judicial selections in Georgia and elsewhere.

U.S. Reps. John Lewis and David Scott, both Democrats from Atlanta, were not in the meeting with Jarrett, White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler and the CBC’s four-member working group on judges, but both attended a larger caucus meeting with Jarrett to talk about the Obama agenda.

In between the two get-togethers, Scott gave Jarrett a piece of his mind about Georgia’s nominees:

“She just stood there and she just listened and looked at me. And I said, ‘The hurting thing is that this is an African-American president, and that’s what’s hurting so many of the people.’”

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogBut the White House is giving no indication of backing off Georgia’s six-judge slate, negotiated over a multi-year period with Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, to the chagrin of Georgia’s House Democrats.

The White House communications team on Wednesday kept the spin on with a social media-friendly graphic touting the president’s commitment to judicial diversity by the numbers. It mentions Eleanor Ross, the only African-American pick in the Georgia gang.

The picks are still being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and no hearing has been scheduled to approve them.

[This post has been updated to reflect that Scott and Lewis were not in the smaller judicial nominees meeting.]

***

On a somewhat similar topic, Secretary of State Brian Kemp has written a blistering letter to the state’s congressional delegation, laying out his objections to an attempt by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, to return Georgia to a system by which any changes to election laws must be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Justice Department.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be outdated and thus unconstitutional.

Wrote Kemp:

I have taken the consistent position that any federal laws regarding elections should be uniform throughout the United States….The proposed legislation ignores the tremendous progress that Georgia and the rest of the nation have made in the past 50 years and seeks to reinstate an outdated and obsolete formula that would cost Georgia taxpayers a significant amount in time, resources and money….

[T]hese “voting rights violations” are not limited to findings of discriminatory intent. They include any instance where the Department of Justice – under the old, unconstitutional formula – interposed an objection that was not later overturned by a court…The proposed bill also enshrines the controversial “disparate impact” standard, meaning that states or localities could find themselves under federal control even when there is no evidence of discriminatory intent.

Our research indicates that the “violations” that would place Georgia back under pre-clearance are not state laws that were found to be discriminatory. Rather, the “violations” refer almost exclusively to city or county redistricting plans or other minor changes….

I also understand that the proposed bill drastically lowers the standard for litigants seeking a preliminary injunction, allowing political interest groups to control whether our state can implement its own laws….

In an interview this morning with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant on WGAU (1340AM) in Athens, Kemp said:

“If they want to make the act uniform for everybody, and use today’s numbers, and look at the elections of the past 10 years or something, I’m fine with Georgia being involved in this and the rest of the country. But to base a formula on the past, that was declared unconstitutional, and basically carve in four states out of the 50 is just ridiculous.”

In a sidebar on the costs of pre-clearance, Kemp said:

“You think of the election date bill that we changed just a couple of weeks ago [creating an early, May 20 primary].If we were still under this old process, we still would not have that bill pre-cleared, I would bet. “

***

The National Journal is out with its yearly rankings of lawmakers on an ideological axis, and the Georgia delegation results might surprise you: The Washington publication’s scorebook ranks Rep. Doug Collins as the most conservative Georgia U.S. House member (16th most conservative overall), followed closely by Jack Kingston at No. 17.

Where do the other Senate aspirants fall? Phil Gingrey comes it at No. 23 and Paul Broun looks like a moderate at No. 196.

Why? Broun falls off the map by voting against so many bills scored as conservative because he deems them not conservative enough – so he often sides with Democrats, just not for the same reason.

He’ll fare better in the scorecards from right-wing pressure groups that often go against House GOP leadership.

Still, you can expect to hear from Kingston about this score in the Senate campaign.

***

Given his connection to the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign and prominent evangelicals such as Franklin Graham and Hobby Lobby founder Steve Green, what Buckhead publicist Mark DeMoss thinks about a more relaxed legal view of marijuana actually matters. From Religious News Service:

 “When 50 percent of our prison beds are occupied by nonviolent offenders, we have prison overcrowding problems and violent offenders serving shortened sentences, I have a problem with incarceration for possession of marijuana,” he said.

“None of that’s to say I favor free and rampant marijuana use. I don’t think it’s the most serious blight on America.”

***

So far, Dalton Mayor David Pennington wins the award among gubernatorial candidates for reacting quickest to the news.

He rattled off this dispatch shortly after the news broke that Gov. Nathan Deal and several top aides could be forced to testify in an upcoming whistleblower trial:

“Whether it is the snow disaster, the state employee healthcare failure, or the ethics commission in complete disarray – Georgians are constantly faced with Nathan Deal’s inability to lead.”

***

Our AJC colleague David Wickert reports that Tom Lowe, who has spent 40 years as a Fulton County commissioner, announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election:

Lowe, 85, told colleagues at Wednesday’s commission meeting that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He will continue to serve on the commission through the end of this year.

“We’ve had a good time with it. But I think the greatest thing in the world is to know when your time has come,” he said. “My time has come.”

***

State Rep. Matt Dollar, R-Cobb County, has introduced a bill to require local development authorities to make regular reports to county commissions and school boards on tax breaks given to spur economic development. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Dollar is being challenged for his House seat in this year’s Republican primary race by Karen Hallacy, who sits on the board of the Development Authority of Cobb County.

The bill, House Bill 921, would require development authorities to provide quarterly reports, giving counties, municipalities and local school boards a way to stay informed on upcoming development projects that might get offered special tax deals.

However, just because county commissioners and school boards would know about those special tax deals under this bill, that  doesn’t mean you will. There’s a line in the bill that would prevent the general public from having access to the information.

***

Cobb County has also become a center of unrest when it comes to state school funding. The county’s GOP school board has demanded more of it from Gov. Nathan Deal.

Which explains this seven-page letter that state Rep. John Carson, R-Cobb County, has sent out to local PTAs – presumably on behalf of the governor.

17 comments
Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

In 1991, the Congressional Black Caucus had the foresight to oppose Thomas (19-1) for a seat on the high court, even though he would be just the second black to serve on the court.

John Lewis your a fraud!!!!

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Lewis and Scott, they got to keep this " Civil Rights Band Wagon " going, they and others like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton have made too much money off it to let it go now. Neither Lewis or Scott have accomplished a single thing of National importance during their time in Congress but by the grace of their low information voter districts, no one holds them accountable.   

BuzzG
BuzzG

Jim Galloway, Bernie31 wants to write your column when you go on vacation.  And if you don't let him, it just validates his assertion that you are a racist. 

    Don't worry that he slept through the third grade.  I'll teach him the difference between "there", "their" and "they're" as well as "its" and "it's".  It'll be a little more difficult to teach him to keep his fingers off his caps lock button.  And it will probably be impossible to teach him to use actual logic. 

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

Mr. Lowe could take up preaching at our church. Our preacher thinks he knows when "the time has come" to stop.

td1234
td1234

Sending Deal to retirement in the primary is in the states best interest. Vote for Dr, Barge on May 20th.

BigHat
BigHat

Secret government is the best government.  

luludog
luludog

I understand that the six federal court judicial nominees for Georgia  put forward by our two Republican US senators and approved by President Obama include three Democrats (including one African American) and three Republicans. This is in deed a slap in the face to those who gave their sweat and blood in the civil rights movement to ensure that a black president like President Obama might at long last get elected to the highest office in the land. Congressmen John Lewis and David scott are right to challenge President Obama's failure to nominate more African American judges from the state that gave us Dr. Martin Luther King. I don't care how difficult it would be to secure their appointment. It is the right thing to do. Period. 


Moreover,  President Obama disappoints many in another way that he has handled his judicial nominations.  Those who struggled for and continue to struggle for consumer rights, environmental rights, employment and union rights, as well as civil rights and for whom President Obama's election held out so much promise when he was first elected, must be deeply disappointed and frustrated that he has nominated so many attorneys from the corporate sector to fill federal court judge positions, too many of whom seem to believe that it is their job to protect corporate interests in their rulings from the bench.  See this article: "Elizabeth WarrenTo Obama: Stop Putting Forward So Many Corporate Judicial Nominees," by Jeffrey Bendery, Huffington Post, Feb. 6, 2014:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/06/elizabeth-warren-obama-judicial-nominees_n_4738029.html



dreluv
dreluv

I wonder what Nathan Deal polls looking like after the snow storm..People are fed up with Nathan Deal he got to be voted out.

Bernie31
Bernie31

The Judicial Picks...Too Little, Too LATE! The Deal has already been struck with SATAN and his minions.

uh...huh


honested
honested

It's truly a shame that Secretary kemp confuses his job with carrying water for the confederate gop.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

The bill, House Bill 921, would require development authorities to provide quarterly reports, giving counties, municipalities and local school boards a way to stay informed on upcoming development projects that might get offered special tax deals.

Simply providing this information is of little to no benefit to the taxpayers (compounded by the fact that we, the pain in the neck little people demanding accountability, will never be allowed to see them). A pew Research study conducted last year found that Jawja and 25 other states conduct no cost/benefit analysis of these sweetheart deals, and no follow-up to determine whether these deals actually produce the jobs and wealth that they are purported to. 

The state demands accountability, endless documentation and reports from the poor and unemployed in order to get their $3-400 monthly UEC or welfare payment, yet allows these corporations--oops, I mean people--to simply state that they will bring a gazillion in benefits to locate here, yet no one follows up to determine whether those benefits, if any, actually accrue.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The AJC found an attack on Governor Deal from Pennington, but I haven't seen anything negative from/about Nunn or Dr. Rad.  Are they being quiet and not campaigning, or does the AJC ignore such campaign issues against fellow Democrats?

Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

@BuzzG Don't worry buzz, we all know bernie31 is full of hot air & waste of space!!! 

Bernie31
Bernie31

@BuzzG Nice to know that my presence is in Your Head so Early in the morning. There are only (2) Two People, I give such devotion too so early at the beginning of my Day and you are not one of them. The Power of the written word is stronger, than one may think.....certainly true in your case.

I wil always be there in your Head sitting quietly, waiting...and smiling. 

As You anxiously..... await........... MORE!

honested
honested

@The_Centrist Wouldn't they first have to do something questionable in order for it to be reported?


Why do the wrong wing think it is imperative for the press to take a vow of silence and ignore the obvious?

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@The_Centrist "does the AJC ignore such campaign issues against fellow Democrats?"

I think the AJC is counting on you to provide us with all the dirt on democrats. But with all your whining about the liberal media and the liberal AJC, how will you find the time to look for it.

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