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In nine of 11 southern states, President George Bush has never nominated an African American for any of 62 openings for federal trial court judgeships, according to federal court data. In his home state of Texas, the president has not nominated a single black judge to the federal bench in 18 nominations sent to the Senate during the past six years, according to Leslie Proll, director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s Washington, D.C., office. The lack of new black judges on southern courts underlines the fact that many of the African American judges serving in the region were appointed years ago and are approaching retirement. Some black lawyers worry that as a result, a new generataion of southern lawyers may never see an African American judge on the federal bench. Mississippi and Alabama have not had a black judge appointed in more than 20 years, a situation that Proll calls “very egregious. So many of the Carter judges are leaving the court through death or retirement. Generations are changing on the bench, and nobody is following them,” she says. In Alabama, where all nine Bush nominees have been white, Democratic congressman Artur Davis says, “It is inconceivable to me that there has not been a black judge of caliber to serve on the federal bench in the last 20 years. “The first thing you hear is they can’t find anyone qualified,” Davis says. “That is not plausible, given the number of black lawyers in the state.” The more powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits have fared little better with black nominations. Of 14 nominees, no blacks have been proposed for the Fifth or Eleventh Circuits. Bush has nominated three blacks to the Fourth Circuit�Claude Allen of Virginia, who later withdrew in the face of Democratic opposition; Judge Roger Gregory, originally a recess appointment by President Bill Clinton who was renominated by Bush in 2001; and Judge Allyson Duncan of North Carolina, confirmed in 2003. Presidents typically consider judicial recommendations by senators from the state affected. Republican senator Trent Lott of Mississippi put Judge Henry Wingate�the only black federal district court judge in the state�on a short list of recommendations for the Fifth Circuit in 2004 and 2007, according to Susan Irby, Lott’s communication director. But Win-gate, a 1985 Reagan appointee to Mississippi’s Southern District, was passed over both times in favor of white candidates: Charles Pickering, who left the Fifth Circuit in 2004 when his controversial recess appointment expired, and Leslie Southwick, nominated in January. Irby says Lott “casts a wide net” when seeking potential judicial recommendations. “I can’t give you specifics, but he has reached out to a diverse group of folks,” she says. Carlton Reeves, president-elect of the Magnolia Bar Association, which represents black lawyers, says that Lott “has never, to my knowledge, consulted with the Magnolia Bar, and we have been in existence since 1955.” Irby says she “took umbrage” at the idea that the recent nomination of Halil Ozerden, whose family came from Turkey, would not be considered “putting diversity on the court. It is unfair not to note that he is not Caucasian,” she says, in apparent reference to his nationality rather than ethnicity. In 11 southern states of the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits, no blacks have been nominated for any of the 75 federal district court judgeships that have become vacant during President Bush’s administration, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In two other southern states, Bush did nominate an African American�in Florida, Marcia Cooke, and in Maryland, William Quarles. In addition, he has nominated 11 Hispanics to district courts in Texas, Florida, and Mississippi and one Hispanic to the Fifth Circuit. National Bar Association president Linnes Finney of Stuart, Florida, says that while the number of black nominees is “disappointing,” the “White House . . . counsel have been receptive to meeting with us to discuss appointment of African Americans to the federal judiciary.” The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment on its nominations, nor did Republican senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas; John Cornyn of Texas; Thad Cochran of Mississippi; or Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nationwide, Bush has appointed 18 black judges out of 263 appointments to all federal courts during his six years in office, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee and federal judiciary data.

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