Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Black Federal Judges

The Atlantic has an in depth piece about how President Obama is doing with his goal of diversity on the federal bench.  Here's the section on the 11th Circuit and Florida:

11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals represents Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Its territory comprises the highest percentage of blacks—approximately 25 percent—of any federal judicial circuit in the country. Today, there are eight judges on "active" status on the bench there and eight more on "senior" status. Of these 16 jurists, only one is black—Judge Charles Wilson, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Judge Wilson, in turn, replaced Judge Joseph Hatchett, the first black judge ever to serve in the 11th Circuit since its creation in 1981. There has never been a black female judge on the 11th Circuit.
There have been six vacancies on the 11th Circuit since President Obama took office in January 2009. He has not nominated a single black man or woman to fill them. He has nominated instead one Latino man and four white women. The Senate has confirmed two of these nominees—Adalberto Jordan and Beverly Martin, both of whom were Clinton district court appointees. As set forth below, there is currently a vacancy, for an "Alabama" spot on the 11th Circuit, that is so new the White House has not yet named a nominee for it.
By contrast, four of the 15 judges currently on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are black (two of whom were appointed to their post by President Obama, the other two by President George W. Bush). The territory of the 4th Circuit comprises a slightly smaller percentage of blacks—23 percent—than does the 11th Circuit. Even the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, still by far the most conservative in the nation, has two black federal appeals judges—one appointed by President Obama, the other by Bill Clinton.

Florida
The black population of Florida in 1970, the first census year following the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was 15.3 percent. Today, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, it is 16.6 percent. Today, only three of the state's 37 federal trial judges are black women. The first, Marcia Cooke, arrived on the bench just nine years ago, a nominee of George W. Bush. The second, Mary Scriven, arrived in 2008, another Bush nominee. The third, Charlene Honeywell, was nominated by President Obama during his first term.
There are currently four federal district vacancies in Florida (and a fifth is on its way). To the spot vacated by the aforementioned Jordan, the president has nominated the aforementioned Thomas, who would become the first openly gay black man to serve on the federal bench.  The president has nominated another black man, Brian Davis, to another federal district position in Florida. Senator Rubio withdrew his hold on the Davis nomination in September but still opposes the Thomas bid. That leaves three vacancies for which the White House has not yet made a nomination.
One of those trial court vacancies was created recently by a promotion. Last week, to replace Judge Rosemary Barkett on the 11th Circuit, President Obama nominated a white woman named Robin S. Rosenbaum. He had appointed Judge Rosenbaum only last year to a spot in the Southern District of Florida, which she will leave if confirmed to the 11th Circuit. So there is no black 11th Circuit nominee from Alabama. And no black 11th Circuit nominee from Florida. Judge Wilson, the Clinton appointee, still stands alone.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can Obama argue with facts ?

Shameful.

Anonymous said...

For some odd reason, Texas was left off of this list of Southern States lacking in diversity on the federal bench. For starters, Texas is in the 5th Circuit along with Louisiana & Mississippi. However, there has NEVER EVER been an African-American chosen to serve on the 5th Circuit in Texas history. LA. has Stuart (Clinton) & MS has Graves (Obama). There are currently 2 vacancies on the 5th Circuit in Texas & two Hispanics have just been tapped for those vacancies. A third vacancy will come in December, when Justice King will take Senior Status, & it would be awesome if a well-qualified African-American was nominated to fill this vacancy. In addition, there has only been 3 African-American Federal Judges to ever serve in Texas (one female & 2 males)........compared to countless Hispanic & White Judges serving. One of the three.....Kenneth Hoyt in the Southern District, took Senior status in March, leaving only 2 African-American Federal Judges in the entire state. The White House needs to work with Senators Cornyn & Cruz to vet well-qualified African-Americans for the federal bench in Texas as well!!!

Anonymous said...

The same can & should be said for Texas, as the state has only produced 3 African-American Federal Judges in it's entire history & never has an African-American served on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas! Shameful also!!! The Senators & White House continuously nominate Hispanics & Whites, but never African-Americans or Asians!

Anonymous said...

This is a very disappointing article you posted David.

Diversity is good, but at some point we really do need to judge people by the "content of their character" rather than by color and numbers.

Regarding the district bench, I think it is fair to say that more black judges could be appointed.

But why not Hondoran?

Nicaraguan?

Brazilian? Asian? Haitian?

At some point, simply trying to fill spots with people who fit a certain race or ethnicity destroys the process.

Regarding the Eleventh Circuit - you are way off.

I challenge you to name one judge in the district more qualified to sit on the Eleventh than Robin Rosenbaum - Black, White, Hispanic or otherwise.

The article does an injustice to her because it implies (1) that she is getting the nod because she is a white woman and (2) that she is not the most qualified person for the position.

I do not profess to hold the answer to the difficult question of diversity; but I do know that simply counting chairs is not the right way.

David Markus said...

I merely posted an article for discussion. You made all sorts of assumptions about what I thought, including about Judge Rosenbaum. I support Judge Rosenbaum's nomination and even if the article spoke to that (which I don't think it does), it would be wrong to say that I believe something or agree with a position merely because I posted a link.

Anonymous said...

Let's be real here. Obama is running out of time and we live in a state where one of the Senators is running for President.

No one is saying - least of all not DOM - that RR was nominated because she is a white woman. She was nominated because she's qualified and will be an easy confirmation.

Anonymous said...

9:56 -- I disagree with you, but, regardless, you should hear Judge Jordan's take on this (diversity). To paraphrase, he said that being white or black or hispanic doesn't necessarily make you qualified. He did say, however, that it is important to the persons living in the community in which the judges serve to have people like them judging them. I think that's right. If the Eleventh Circuit is going to be as conservative as it is on issues such as sentencing, habeas, etc., then it may give the hispanics or blacks at the losing end of these issues some comfort in the system to know that they are being judged by people like them.

On a totally different note, good use by the author of "comprises." It is wrong to write that something "is comprised of." Glad to know that copy editors still exist.

Eric said...

The National Bar Association is encouraging this White House to vet well-qualified African-Americans across the Nation to promote more diversity & inclusion on the federal bench. States like Texas are now having lawyers & jurist of the "baby-boomer" generation to retire after 40 years without ever seeing or appearing before one single African-American Justice on the 5th Circuit out of Texas, while Hispanic & White Justices are well-represented across the state. This is disturbing to say the least! President George W. Bush did not appoint a single African-American to the federal bench in Texas in his entire 8 years as President, & President Obama has yet to appoint an African-American in Texas. President Clinton was the last President to appoint 2 African-Americans in Texas, and they are still the only 2 serving in the entire state today.

Anonymous said...

Not what I meant - disappointing article - not you. Sorry I wasn't clearer.

Anonymous said...

About a year ago I argued a case in the 11th Circuit. I was the only lawyer in the courtroom(Judges, Layers representing clients and law clerks)that was not a white male. Not the first time I have been in that situation, but the condescending manner in which I was treated was humiliating and infuriating. I can only image what litigants, especially criminal defendants, of color must feel when their life, freedom, fate lies in the balance and no other person in the courtroom with any authority looks like them. It is 2013 and we are still having this discussion -- sad.

Anonymous said...


I'm telling Judge Wilson these clowns think he's from Georgia. What an insult!

Anonymous said...

First, I withdraw my suggestion that they said Judge Wilson is from Georgia. When they said he "stands alone" it was within the Florida section.
Second, as to Anonymous 2:02, the condescending manner in which you were treated probably had nothing to do with race, it happens to all of us at the Eleventh Circuit, at least when you get certain panels/judges.

Anonymous said...

@12:53 pm - David's a little sensitive...denying that which he was not accused of....sounds like my clients....

Anonymous said...

2:02 --
About two years ago I argued a case in the 11th Circuit. Like most of the lawyers in the courtroom (Judges, Layers representing clients and law clerks) I was (and continue to be) a white male. The condescending manner in which I was treated was humiliating and infuriating. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that I was representing a criminal defendant. Welcome to the 11th Circuit!

Anonymous said...

If you ever draw Pryor, you will know condescending - even if he says nothing.

Anonymous said...

From the 11th I'll take condescending. Just don't yell lat me for filing a brief.

Anonymous said...

I'm hispanic and the diversity issue is not an easy one. Here, we have plenty of black jurists/lawyers applying for the bench so it is not a situation where black candidates are not in the mix because they are "opting out" of the process. At a minimum, I think that its important to have a bench that reflects the community it presides over because it enhances the court's credibility and its perception that its rulings/opinions are fair. In other words, assuming that the court cares about how it is perceived by the community over which it presides, then diversity can only help the Court.

Eric said...

It's been a fact in Texas where African-Americans with stellar qualifications are applying for District Courts & 5th Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies & would be easily confirmed, but the powers that be have continually nominated & appointed well-qualified Whites & Hispanics over African-Americans since Clinton left the WH 13 years ago!!!

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

Judge Rosenbaum smarter than Judge Thomas. When Thomas was set to make the move up, he dropped the ball at the sentencing. On the flip side, Rosenbaum launched Rothstein 18 months. No monday morning quarterbacking this time

Anonymous said...

Texas Senators Cornyn & Cruz have formed a Bi-partisan Committee to screen, interview, & recommend lawyers and jurists who they feel would be good candidates to fill the 7 vacancies across Texas, & it'll be very interesting to see if any African and Asian Americans make the cut this time. If so, this will be a first for Cornyn, who has a public record of recommending only Whites & Hispanics for nominations to the WH. Cruz is new to the process; therefore, he has no record for nominations to the federal bench.

Anonymous said...

Stick to garbage . We get it . You don't like gay black men any you had an interest in the dead biker . Move on stalker

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2011-11-14/Candidate-for-circuit-judge-arrested-for-3rd-time-DUI#.UoSpfNKZ1cM a non y mouse

Anonymous said...

This blog is on fire!!!

David, post some more articles on racism!!!

Anonymous said...

Better yet , why don't you reach out for Luther Campbell to do a guest post on the issue? He writes for New Times.

-GB

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2013/sc10-1772.pdf a whole lot of law is recited here

Anonymous said...

Thanks David for having the conversation. Not many---as evidenced by the comments--even acknowledge that there is a glaring disparity of diversity. The real value of this discussion is the fact that it is happening. This is the 21st century and we are still experiencing "the first" kind of moments of which the Southern District of Florida is not immune.