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A new judge has been appointed to the South Carolina District Court, but his success has been rather overshadowed by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who voted against the appointment due to the color of the nominee’s skin.
Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. is the first Trump nominee appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, and his position was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 68-29, with mostly Republican support. That is, despite his Caucasian coloring.
NOT ENOUGH DIVERSITY
Schumer objected to the appointment on the grounds that the Trump administration hasn’t been sufficiently “diverse” in its judicial nominations, rejecting Quattlebaum on the basis of his personal background and ethnicity, rather than professional qualifications. He told the Senate that he would be voting no for Quattlebaum because “the nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary.” He continued:
“As of February 14th, 83 percent of the President Trump’s confirmed nominees were male, 92 percent were white. That represents the lowest share of non-white candidates in three decades. It’s long past time that the judiciary starts looking a lot more like the America it represents. Having a diversity of views and experiences on the federal bench is necessary for the equal administration of justice.”
Schumer also rejected the appointment because, “Quattlebaum replaces not one, but two scuttled Obama nominees who were African American.” President Obama had nominated two black judges for the position; South Carolina Circuit judge Alison Lee and South Carolina Supreme Court judge Donald Beatty. Neither of these nominees were rejected because of their ethnicity, however.
Lee’s nomination was withdrawn by Obama after South Carolina’s Republican senators declined to support her due to concerns over her professional record. The senators questioned two cases in particular, where Lee had lowered the bonds needed to release suspects, only to have them commit serious crimes upon being freed.
Beatty was promoted to Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, where is reportedly doing much to promote the civil rights of the local community. He began serving in the role on January 1st, 2017, three days before his nomination to the District Court expired. While it is not clear why his nomination to the District Court existed for some time with no action taken, it is possible that his impending promotion interfered with Senate proceedings.
HE’S NOT RACIST, BUT…
Schumer’s reasoning has been criticized by Republican senators, who stopped just short of accusing the Senate Minority Leader of racism (despite Schumer himself being Caucasian). Lindsey Graham, one of the South Carolina senators who rejected Lee’s nomination tweeted:
“I judge nominees on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Chuck Schumer should do the same.
I’ve known Chuck Schumer for years. He is not a racist, but this was an absolutely shameful reason to vote against a very qualified nominee like Marvin Quattlebaum.
This is political correctness run amok. Voting against a highly qualified nominee because of the color of his skin does nothing to bring our country and nation together. Frankly it is a massive step backward.”
Tim Scott, South Carolina’s other Senator also took to Twitter to support Quattlebaum, questioning the Democrats’ credentials when it comes to racial diversity:
Perhaps Senate Democrats should be more worried about the lack of diversity on their own staffs than attacking an extremely well-qualified judicial nominee from the great state of South Carolina.
This is not the first time that President Trump has been criticized for a lack of ethnic diversity in his judicial nominations, however, it seems incredible in this day and age that a senior public official could openly question a public appointment based on nothing more than the color of a person’s skin.