Mon., December 23, 2013 4:08pm (EST)

Group Chastises President Obama’s Picks For Federal Court
By Ellen Reinhardt
Updated: 4 months ago

ATLANTA  —  
Reverend Joseph Lowery was among several civil rights and political leaders calling on President Obama to rescind his slate of nominations for the Bench in the Northern District of Georgia. They held a press conference on Monday at Ebernezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Reverend Joseph Lowery was among several civil rights and political leaders calling on President Obama to rescind his slate of nominations for the Bench in the Northern District of Georgia. They held a press conference on Monday at Ebernezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Several Georgia democratic congressmen and civil rights groups are pressuring President Obama to rescind his nominations for the federal district court of Northern Georgia.

Reverend Joseph Lowery, Congressman John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian, who are all recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, say the nominations for the Northern Georgia District bench lack diversity.

The civil rights leaders also say nominee Mark Cohen worked to support Georgia’s Voter ID laws, which they say are an effort to suppress minority voting. The coalition also opposes nominee Michael Boggs, who voted in the Georgia General Assembly to keep the Confederate Emblem on the state flag.

Reverend Lowery says those nominees will threaten the state’s progress toward equality for all.

“We’ve come too far, marched too long, prayed too hard, wept too bitterly, bled too profusely and died too young to let anybody turn back the clock on our progress to a just society,” said Lowery.

Congressman John Lewis says Mark Cohen fought for Georgia’s voter ID laws, which civil rights groups say suppresses minority voting.

“Mr. President, the lives of the people of this state hang in the balance. We question whether this is the kind of legacy you want to leave in the state of Georgia,” said Lewis.

Lewis says if the nominations go forward, he plans to testify against Boggs and Cohen before the Senate Judiciary committee.

Congressman David Scott says the coalition supports the President but calls these nominations a tragic mistake.

“There is no segment of this nation that loves this President like we do. But to be hurt by the one you love, that is the most hurtful thing of all.”

Congressman Hank Johnson says there is an embarrassing lack of diversity on Georgia's federal court benches and he says "We must do better."

Among the coalition seeking change is the Gate City Bar Association, the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, the Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys, Dekalb Lawyers Association, the New Rock Legal Society, the Atlanta and Georgia Chapters of the NAACP, The Coalition for the People's Agenda, and the SCLC.

Under the Constitution, a state's senators propose nominees to the federal bench for their state to the President.

Republican U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, who negotiated the nominations with the White House, stand by the list of nominees.

The senators issued this joint statement:

"As senators, we take our constitutional duty to advise and consent very seriously. We are pleased to see the process of filling federal judicial nominations in Georgia move forward. The White House has been diligent and cooperative throughout this process, and this is a well-qualified group of nominees. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate as we go through the confirmation process."