State's Democratic Congressmen Meet with White House Staff Over Open Federal Judgeships
Georgia's Congressional Democrats met Thursday in Washington with staff of the Office of White House Counsel to discuss Georgia's open federal judgeships, an aide to U.S. Rep. David Scott confirmed.
The meeting took place after Georgia's five Democratic House members sent a letter on Sept. 17 to President Barack Obama's White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, expressing their shock and disappointment over a proposed list of six candidates for federal judgeships in Georgia, including two open seats on the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and four seats on the District Court.
A White House official told the Daily Report last week that the White House had replied to the strongly worded letter and planned to meet with the congressmen. Scott aide Michael Andel confirmed that the meeting took place today. He had no further information.
Georgia's Congressional Democrats sent the letter to the White House after reading a Sept. 10 story in the Daily Report that identified six potential nominees for the federal judiciary whose names had been forwarded to the White House for approval. The names were submitted as part of a deal approved by Georgia's Republican U.S. senators. Four of the six proposed nominees were candidates selected by Georgia's Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
In their letter to Ruemmler, the Democratic congressmen said they learned of the potential deal from the Daily Report and felt they had been excluded from the selection process despite unsuccessful attempts to seek meetings with White House staff on how best to fill the vacant judgeships. The letter was signed by U.S. Representatives John Lewis, Hank Johnson, David Scott, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow.
Their letter also complained that although they have submitted several candidates during the last two sessions of Congress, "Our Senate colleagues put none of these names forward."
In their letter to the White House counsel, the Democratic congressmen insisted it is "essential" that they participate in selecting candidates for nomination to the federal bench "to ensure a representative federal judiciary in Georgia."
The current slate of proposed nominees includes one African-American woman for the District Court, three white women—two for the Eleventh Circuit and one for a District Court seat—and two white men for the District Court.
Georgia lawyers familiar with the nomination process who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations have told the Daily Report that the proposed nominees for two open seats on the Eleventh Circuit are:
• Jill Pryor, a partner at Atlanta's Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore whom President Obama has twice nominated to an open post on the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.