Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is under scrutiny after the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) accused him of blocking the confirmation of two Black judges. Sen. Rubio’s office claims that based on concerns from his fellow Republicans in the Senate, further review was necessary. However, Sen. Rubio gave a pleasant introduction to one of the candidates at a confirmation hearing last year.
Candidates Brian Davis for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District, who was introduced by Rubio at his confirmation hearing, and William L. Thomas, for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, are seemingly being stalled for dubious reasons.
According to the report from the Tampa Bay Times, Republican Senators are investigating comments made by Davis in the mid-1990s regarding racial matters. In June, a Rubio spokesperson said to the Florida Times-Union that “several Republican senators have expressed concern” over the nomination.
Iowa senator Charles Grassley has been the most vocal opponent to Davis, citing a 1994 speech from the judge-hopeful that Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign as U.S. surgeon general because she is African American. Davis later said in 1995 that Elders’ successor was filibustered because he, too, was Black.
Grassley contends that Davis’ statements make him unfit for “viewing the world through a lens that I think is inappropriate and unacceptable for a federal court judge,” according to a response statement.
Grassley admitted that Davis’ statement regarding Elders was part of a larger discussion on race, but is still zeroing in on the speech. As for Rubio’s hesitation with Thomas, a gay man, he and other Republican senators have been mum.
On Wednesday, CBC members gathered to discuss the lack of judicial diversity and to challenge Rubio’s moves regarding the confirmations.
In a statement, the CBC said, “Currently, 30 percent of judicial nominees pending confirmation in the Senate are African American. CBC Members will highlight African-American judicial nominees in Florida whose confirmations have been stalled due to negligence and obstruction by Sen. Marco Rubio.”