Miami, Fla. (CBS TAMPA/AP) — President Barack Obama nominated a diverse group of candidates Wednesday to be judges as the White House tries to address concerns from black lawmakers about minority representation on the federal bench.
The White House noted that only one of the five nominees was a white male. One nominee was Florida state judge Darrin Gayles, who would be the first openly gay black man to serve on the federal bench if confirmed by the Senate. Obama’s pick of Gayles to serve in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida is his second nomination of an African-American, openly gay man to the same position.
Obama’s first nomination attempt was William Thomas – who is also an openly gay, African-American man. However, Obama chose not to resubmit his nomination after it was blocked by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who cited “serious concerns” over his “judicial temperament” and “willingness to impose appropriate criminal sanctions,” a spokeswoman for Rubio said in a statement to Metro Weekly.
Gayles previously served as a circuit court judge for Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2011, Metro Weekly reports. He also served as a county judge there from 2004-2011, and was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund during 2012 re-election bid.
Deborah Batts, who was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, was the first openly gay African-American female to serve as a federal judge.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, meanwhile, was meeting privately with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. They’ve complained about a lack of diversity among Southern judges in particular.
The White House posted a new graphic on its website touting the diversity of his judicial picks.
Obama nominated three others for federal district court judgeships in Florida — Florida state judges Beth Bloom and Carlos Eduardo Mendoza and attorney Paul Byron. Obama also nominated attorney Cheryl Ann Krause to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
In a statement made to Metro Weekly, Rubio said he does not foresee any objection with the nomination of Gayles or the president’s other three nominees. A spokesman for Rubio said that Gayles was on a list of several judges that Rubio’s office said they could support for confirmation to the position.
All four of the president’s nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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