WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama today nominated Leslie Joyce Abrams, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Atlanta and the sister of House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, for a federal District Court judge post in Middle Georgia.
Abrams arrives at a tricky political time for Georgia judicial nominees, as a package of six nominees is being challenged from the left by Georgia Democrats, civil rights leaders and liberal groups. Her nomination was not pre-negotiated with Republican U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, who would need to give the go-ahead for her to be considered in committee under the “blue slip” custom for home-state senators.
It’s unclear if if the nomination will help thaw White House relations with Georgia Democrats, who were livid about being shut out of previous negotiations with the senators.
Abrams, according to a White House bio, has been a federal prosecutor for four years in major crimes and economic crimes, participating in nearly 100 cases from sex crimes against children to bank fraud. She also did community outreach for the U.S. Attorney’s office, including a partnership with the Urban League.
Before her time as a prosecutor, Abrams worked in civil and complex litigation with firms in Washington and Atlanta.
If confirmed, Abrams could become the first African-American female federal judge in Georgia. That distinction would have been held by Natasha Perdew Silas and Linda Walker, whom Obama nominated in 2011 for Atlanta-based judgeships. Isakson and Chambliss blocked Silas and both nominations ended up not going forward because the White House and Senate Democrats considered them a package deal.
DeKalb County state court Judge Eleanor Ross also would be the first black female federal judge in the state, but her nomination is one of six now being held up. The others are Jill Pryor and Julie Carnes for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals; and Michael Boggs, Mark Cohen and Leigh Martin May for the Northern District of Georgia. Boggs, in particular, has been under attack from the left for his positions in the state House on abortion, same-sex marriage and keeping the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia flag.
Worth noting: Stacey Abrams has lately emerged as a prominent White House surrogate in Georgia and attended a state dinner last month.