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Obama Under Fire Over Georgia Judicial Picks

Civil rights leaders Joseph Lowery and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) are among those protesting President Barack Obama's choice of two Georgia judicial nominees. (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla)

President Barack Obama will start the new year with a fresh fight over judicial nominees, but this time, it’s not Senate Republicans sparring with him. It’s civil rights leaders and Democratic lawmakers.

Joseph Lowery, C.T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) — all of whom were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama for their legacy work on civil rights — are waging a campaign against two of his recent nominees to federal courts in Georgia. One nominee, former state legislator Michael Boggs, opposed the state’s effort to remove the Confederate insignia from Georgia’s flag. The other nominee, attorney Mark Cohen, led a case defending Georgia’s voter ID law, which civil rights groups say suppresses black voting power.

Both nominees are part of an all-or-nothing package of six judicial nominees agreed to by Obama and Georgia’s two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.

They cut the deal months ago, but the administration took some time to vet the nominees. The president formally submitted them to the Senate last month, but they were returned when Congress adjourned for the year. Obama resubmitted them on Monday.

The package deal means all six nominees — four of whom are GOP picks and two of whom are Democratic picks — can move forward. The White House appears to have gotten the short end of the stick, but at the least, it allows some Georgia nominees to move forward after years of going nowhere. A source familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity, said Democrats angry about the package arrangement were pushing to leave all six of the slots vacant instead of taking the deal, which was unacceptable to the White House.

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