Black Caucus in public tiff with Obama over judges
An interesting dynamic is at work here, with the Congressional Black Caucus in the position of criticizing a black president for not appointing enough black federal judges.
Is this a little misdirection from the CBC to show how non-partisan they are?
The Democrats also contend several of Obama's nominees have championed policies that either discriminate against minorities, or are just plain racist.
"We have very grave concerns [with certain nominees] given disparities that are particularly common in the South," Norton said Thursday in a telephone interview.
The outcry is a rare public split between Obama and his staunchest allies.
Yet the president's relationship with black lawmakers on Capitol Hill is more complicated that it sometimes appears.
While the CBC's underlying support for Obama has been unwavering, many have also expressed disappointment that he hasn't fought harder for the liberal policy priorities that propelled him twice into the White House.
Norton, who heads a CBC panel focused on judicial nominations, said the group has met with other CBC members representing the 11th Circuit states to discuss an opposition strategy to Obama's picks. While "no decisions have been made" about specifics, she said, the exasperation within the CBC is general.
"This is a caucus-wide concern," she said.
The focus will likely be on Georgia, where most within the Democratic delegation - including Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon - have been up in arms since Obama named a handful of nominees for the federal bench just before Christmas.
One of them, Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, had voted years ago as a state legislator to keep the Confederate battle emblem a prominent part of Georgia's state flag - a move to preserve "one of the most vicious symbols of hate and white supremacy" in the country's history, Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), a CBC member, charged earlier this month.
Another nominee, Atlanta lawyer Mark H. Cohen, helped to defend Georgia's voter ID law, which the Democrats say is designed to discourage the participation of poor and minority voters at the polls.
"You tell me, how can you have the Justice Department fighting the voter ID, voter suppression law in Texas and at the same time put on the court for life the man who defended that same law in Georgia?" Scott asked, referring to the DOJ's lawsuit against Texas's new voter ID law.
To be sure, the CBC's idea of "racism" needs a little work. But what this argument shows is just how radical the CBC truly is if they think Obama has been deficient in advancing a liberal agenda.
President Obama has consistently advocated far left policies that have either been rejected by Congress or watered down - even by the Democratic Senate. It's hard to see what the CBC has to complain about - Obama is advancing their agenda as best he can given the limits placed on him by a Republican House and a Democratic Senate that is largely less radical than the CBC.