Protesters paid a visit to Senator Marco Rubio's office in Miami Florida yesterday demanding that the Senator withdraw his opposition for federal district court nominee William Thomas.
Judge Thomas, who currently serves on the Miami-Dade Circuit was nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by President Obama last year. If appointed, Thomas would become the first openly gay black man on the federal bench, and the first black judge appointed to a U.S. district court in Florida in almost 20 years. In his nominating statement, President Obama described Judge Thomas as having "demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system." Thomas is a seasoned attorney with extensive background in federal criminal cases. Prior to becoming a judge, Thomas served as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County and as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Florida's Southern District.
Despite his initial support for Judge Thomas's nomination, Rubio withdrew support and vowed to block the nomination this fall, citing concerns regarding Thomas's "temperament" including in two decisions in criminal cases. In one of these cases, a hit and run, the lead prosecutor authored a public letter to Rubio supporting Thomas and his decision. Aside from these unfounded critiques of Thomas's noncontroversial and successful tenure on the bench, Senator Rubio has offered no reasoning behind his change of heart.
It is clear that Judge Thomas would bring strong legal expertise to the bench, and his confirmation would further ensure that judges on the federal bench more closely reflect the rich diversity of the nation they serve. HRC joins these protesters in demanding that Senator Rubio take the steps necessary to allow Judge Thomas's nomination to advance to a vote.