Saturday, November 17, 2018
Politics

Sen. Marco Rubio faces criticism over holding up South Florida judicial nominee

WASHINGTON — For months, Sen. Marco Rubio has faced growing complaints over his refusal to advance a South Florida judicial nominee — one he recommended to the White House — and the matter is now certain to languish into the new year, if not longer.

The Judiciary Committee's final meeting of the year takes place next week, and Mary Barzee Flores is not on the agenda. Rubio has not submitted a "blue slip" that would allow her to advance, though he points to the committee vetting process.

"We're not discussing particulars until Judiciary Committee finishes review," spokesman Alex Burgos said. "There's a thorough review of the nomination currently under way by the Judiciary Committee. Once that is complete and reviewed by the senator, we will discuss next steps. We're letting the current step — vetting for a lifetime job — be completed first."

Without a blue slip, Barzee Flores cannot advance.

The spot on the court has been vacant since May 2014 and is considered a judicial emergency, meaning cases are backlogged.

Barzee Flores was recommended by the widely regarded Florida Judicial Nominating Commission. Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson forwarded her name to the White House, which in February nominated Barzee Flores fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Senators are not bound to support a nominee under JNC rules, though they generally have.

Barzee Flores served on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in Miami from 2003 to 2011 and before that had a long stint in the federal public defender's office. She graduated from Miami Law School in 1988.

The Judicial Committee is overseen by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democrats and activists have accused him of "slow walking" President Barack Obama's nominees in case a Republican president takes over.

"U.S. Courts declared judicial emergency vacancies skyrocketed this year from 12 to 30 because of unjustifiable delays by Sen. Rubio and other home-state Republican senators," said Glenn Sugameli of Judging the Environment.

Rubio's actions have drawn complaints in Florida, including a protest outside his Orlando office in August. "The Sunshine State is in a judicial emergency," read one sign. Rubio's staff cited the committee review.

Grassley has disputed charges that he's playing politics.

Comments
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.
Updated: 8 hours ago
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.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Democrat Stacey Abrams concedes Georgia governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp

Democrat Stacey Abrams concedes Georgia governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp

Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her campaign for governor of Georgia on Friday, lamenting voting irregularities that she said tainted the election but conceding that former Georgia secretary of state Bri
Updated: 11 hours ago

DCF: No mistakes in case of 4-year-old girl whose mother drowned her

A review of the child protective investigation of the mother of Je'Hyrah Daniels says there was no evidence to show the girl was at risk of harm before her death.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bill Nelson adds some votes, but not many, in drama-free manual recounts across Tampa Bay

Bill Nelson adds some votes, but not many, in drama-free manual recounts across Tampa Bay

If Nelson wants to surpass Rick Scott, the two largest counties in Tampa Bay didn't help much.
Updated: 11 hours ago
‘Virtually impossible’: Bill Nelson’s odds of a recount comeback

‘Virtually impossible’: Bill Nelson’s odds of a recount comeback

Things did not go well Friday for Nelson's bid to remain in the U.S. Senate.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Palm Beach finishes manual recount for U.S. Senate

Palm Beach finishes manual recount for U.S. Senate

Next, Palm Beach will begin to recount votes cast in the race for Florida House District 89.
Updated: 12 hours ago
DeSantis transition team nearing end of search for chief of staff

DeSantis transition team nearing end of search for chief of staff

Four names have been often mentioned in the search.
Updated: 12 hours ago
Hernando commissioner cuts deal on prostitution-related charges, walks away with a clean record and a $729 bill

Hernando commissioner cuts deal on prostitution-related charges, walks away with a clean record and a $729 bill

Nick Nicholson says he'll try to get his commission seat back.
Updated: 12 hours ago
Miami-Dade wraps up U.S. Senate recount after flood of undervotes

Miami-Dade wraps up U.S. Senate recount after flood of undervotes

There were 181 new votes for Nelson.
Published: 11/16/18