Alabama Judge Nomination Sparks Tension

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With the death of Supreme Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, the fight over judicial appointments to federal judgeships has only grown more intense. Alabama’s seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has been vacant for two years. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama nominated federal judge Abdul Kallon to fill the seat.

Several prominent lawyers, judges, and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell held a press conference on Saturday in downtown Birmingham in support of Judge Abdul Kallon’s nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sewell, who is a lawyer and has worked with Judge Kallon, said that his nomination will will a vacancy in the court and a void in diversity among federal judges. There are only two African American federal judges in Alabama, and only one African American judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case for increasing the number of black federal judges in the state of Alabama is clear,” Sewell stated. “The selection of this nation’s federal judges should not be a partisan issue.”

Federal judges are nominated by the President and then confirmed or rejected at a Senate hearing. Following Kallon’s nomination by President Obama, Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby released a joint statement opposing the choice.

Kallon is currently a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Both Shelby and Sessions supported his nomination to that seat back in 2009.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals serves Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the court’s case backlog is considered a ‘judicial emergency.’