Sunday, November 18, 2018
Politics

Sen. Marco Rubio under fire for holding up black judicial nominees

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is holding up the confirmations of two African-American judicial candidates, drawing fire from the Congressional Black Caucus, which held a news conference Wednesday blaming him for "negligence and obstruction."

"We would like our senator to step up to the plate and put away whatever games he is playing," said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville.

But Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson isn't pressing forward on one of the candidates, William L. Thomas, either. He is awaiting the outcome of a background check by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The nominees are Brian Davis, for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District, whom Rubio introduced at his confirmation hearing, and Thomas, for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge who is openly gay.

Both made it through Florida's Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, a panel that makes recommendations to the state's senators. The senators, who met with the candidates, sent letters to the White House supporting them. President Barack Obama then nominated the men.

Rubio now says he shares concerns about Davis that were raised last year by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Grassley questioned statements Davis made in the mid 1990s, including suggesting Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign as U.S. surgeon general because she is black.

Davis said he made the comments in a speech about race, but acknowledged they were inappropriate for a judge.

"Those questions need to be resolved," Rubio said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

But in May 2012, Rubio glowed about Davis and another nominee during a Senate Judiciary Hearing. "One of the pleasant surprises of this job is the quality of individuals who offer themselves for public service, and the quality of individuals who we've been able to forward to the president, to the White House, today being no exception," he said.

As for Thomas, Rubio is concerned about his involvement in a controversial case in which a man was given a sentence of just 364 days in jail for the hit-and-run death of a cyclist.

Meantime, Florida House members are in the dark.

"We have no idea," Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, said in an interview. "When there's just absolute silence, you can't think of anything but political gamesmanship."

The complaints from the Congressional Black Caucus are broader than Florida. In a statement, the group said, "Currently, 30 percent of judicial nominees pending confirmation in the Senate are African-American."

The group said that out of 787 federal positions, only 95 are held by black judges.

Comments
Andrew Gillum concedes in race for governor to Ron DeSantis

Andrew Gillum concedes in race for governor to Ron DeSantis

The Democratic candidate for governor lost a close race.
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bill Nelson’s ending: Sluggish campaign couldn’t overcome Rick Scott’s millions

Bill Nelson’s ending: Sluggish campaign couldn’t overcome Rick Scott’s millions

It brings to a close one of the longest careers in the history of Florida politics and one of the last vestiges of the Democratic Party of a bygone era.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pinellas woman arrested after 3-month-old is exposed to cocaine and suffers brain damage

Pinellas woman arrested after 3-month-old is exposed to cocaine and suffers brain damage

Police said she waited 11 hours before seeking medical attention.
Published: 11/17/18
Andrew Gillum ends campaign for Florida governor

Andrew Gillum ends campaign for Florida governor

Democrat Andrew Gillum says he is ending his hard-fought race for Florida governor and has congratulated Republican Ron DeSantis.
Published: 11/17/18
Recount adds to Florida's reputation for bungling elections

Recount adds to Florida's reputation for bungling elections

To much of the world, vote-counting confusion is as authentically Florida as jam-packed theme parks, alligators on golf courses and the ubiquity of Pitbull (the Miami rapper, not the dog).
Published: 11/17/18
He raped a high school student as she died. His sentence: Three years in prison.

He raped a high school student as she died. His sentence: Three years in prison.

A 20-year-old man charged with raping a high school student as she died from a drug overdose was sentenced this week to less than three years in prison. The case out of Washington state has attracted national attention. Both the dead girl’s mo...
Published: 11/17/18
A woman has died on a Princess cruise out of Florida. A report says she went overboard after a fight.

A woman has died on a Princess cruise out of Florida. A report says she went overboard after a fight.

A puzzled passenger who was apparently aboard The Royal Princess wrote a cryptic post Tuesday on cruise community website Cruise Critic.com.The 19-deck ship had departed Nov. 9 from Port Everglades on a seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise and is set ...
Published: 11/17/18
Bill Nelson’s Broward County problem: Some voters saw ‘confusing’ ballot design

Bill Nelson’s Broward County problem: Some voters saw ‘confusing’ ballot design

The Times reached out to more than 3,500 registered voters in those precincts, to see what they thought. Of some 40 responses, most voted with no issue. But several recalled almost missing the Senate race box.
Published: 11/16/18
Updated: 11/17/18
Plant City police: Fleeing driver kills man as he walks to work

Plant City police: Fleeing driver kills man as he walks to work

The driver is in custody, but the fugitive who sparked Friday’s deadly incident is still being sought.
Published: 11/16/18
Federal judge denies request to extend mail-in ballot deadline

Federal judge denies request to extend mail-in ballot deadline

The lawsuit sought to allow the counting of late-arriving absentee ballots, which don't count if they arrive after 7 p.m. Election Day.
Published: 11/16/18