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Hank Johnson Wants to Delay 6 Federal Judge Nominees

, Daily Report

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Hank Johnson says he's willing to wait a year to get more diversity.
Hank Johnson says he's willing to wait a year to get more diversity.

The White House counsel has confirmed her office is vetting a list of six prospective nominees for federal judgeships in Georgia who have been approved by the state's two Republican U.S. senators, Rep. Hank Johnson has told the Daily Report.

Johnson said he wants to persuade the White House to add more minorities to the list and possibly delay appointments a year. The list, which includes one African-American, has been offered as a package deal that includes nominees by both Republicans and Democrats.

Johnson said White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler confirmed the nominee list in a meeting in Washington on Oct. 10 with the state's five Democratic congressmen. He said the congressmen sought the meeting to confirm the existence of the list and to voice their concerns that only one minority candidate was under consideration. Johnson said the delegation did not suggest any of its own candidates to Ruemmler. "It's up to the president to ask for additional names," he said.

On Saturday, Johnson told a meeting in Atlanta of nearly 400 minority lawyers that they might still derail the deal. Despite reaching the vetting stage, he said, that "doesn't mean they will be nominated, y'all."

"Street heat … boots on the ground, picketing, holding people accountable in a public way, appealing to their sense of morality" might be effective in persuading the White House to reject the current proposed slate of prospective judicial nominees in favor of one that would include more than one minority candidate, he said.

Johnson said that he hopes the president will postpone making any nominations to the federal bench in Georgia until after Ruemmler, who is departing as White House counsel at the end of this year, is replaced.

Rep. Johnson told the Daily Report at Saturday's symposium that he and the state's other Congressional Democrats—John Lewis, David Scott, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow—first learned of the existence of a slate of prospective nominees for seats on the Northern District of Georgia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit from a Sept. 10 Daily Report article.

On Sept. 17, they sent a joint letter to Ruemmler, expressing disappointment at the list's lack of diversity and requesting a meeting.

The candidates on the list confirmed by Ruemmler are:

• Jill Pryor, a partner at Atlanta's Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore who has twice nominated to an open post on the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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