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Activist group blasts Marco Rubio for opposing a federal judge after he initially supported her

A Florida-based activist group is blasting Marco Rubio for blocking a former Miami-Dade judge from a federal judgeship, especially after the fact that he initially supported her.

In February of 2015, the White House announced that Mary Barzee Flores had been chosen as a district court judge in South Florida. The lifetime post requires Senates confirmation.

Her nomination came with the recommendations of both Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson, Florida’s two senators.

However, while Nelson complied with tradition and returned his so-called blue card that is sent to the nominee’s home state senators for approval, Rubio has neglected to do so for more than  year. Returning that blue slip automatically triggers a confirmation hearing. Rubio had not previously commented publicly about his refusal to do so, but his office admitted to the Miami Herald  over the weekend that Rubio’s office has been it clear for the first time that he is actively blocking her nomination, saying that she is the  “wrong person” for the South Florida federal judgeship.

Critics contend that Rubio is playing his part of the Republican obstructionist machine, determined in President Obama’s last year in office to deny him federal judgeships that will last a lifetime.

“Despite the urgent need to fill judicial vacancies among Florida’s federal courts, Sen. Rubio has engaged in a pattern of judicial obstruction that is wreaking havoc on our overburdened, understaffed courts while denying and delaying justice for Floridians,” Mark Ferullo with the Florida chapter of the group Why Courts Matter. “In the case of the lingering vacancy in the Southern District, Sen. Rubio has offered no specific explanation for blocking Mary Barzee Flores’ nomination. Sen. Rubio’s obstruction has contributed to slowing confirmations to a snail’s pace, with the Senate on track to confirm the fewest number of judges since 1960.”

Ferullo went on to note that the federal courts in the Middle and South Districts of Florida have declared judicial emergencies because of three long-time judicial vacancies.

“Delaying justice for Floridians is denying justice for Floridians and Sen. Rubio’s judicial obstruction is indefensible,” Ferullo concluded.

In the Herald story on Saturday, the paper quote Miami attorney Tom Spencer, a Republican who supported former Governor Jeb Bush during the past presidential election cycle, as questioning why does Rubio think Barzee Flores is the wrong person now when he supported her selection to the nominating committee and submitted her name to Obama?

“Clearly, some huge pressure was put on Rubio to put the knife into Judge Flores, and Rubio will not reveal the real reason for this hypocrisy,” Spencer said. “This is precisely why so many Florida Republicans are fed up with Rubio and the corrosive nature of his big money politics.”

Democrats nationally have attempted to make a political issue out of the Republican Senate’s refusal to grant Merrick Garland, Obama’s choice to succeed Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, a confirmation hearing. Although polls show that the public would like that as well, it hasn’t become a dominant issue as the Democrats perhaps had hoped it would be.

 

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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