Hundreds of lawyers offended by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s blocking of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William L. Thomas’ nomination to the South Florida federal bench have signed a petition urging the conservative Republican to allow the first openly gay black nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.
Rubio, who along with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson recommended Thomas to President Barack Obama almost a year ago, now says the jurist is not qualified because of his mishandling of a couple of DUI and murder cases.
But the signers of the petition, led by Miami attorney David Tucker, say Rubio has unfairly distorted Thomas’ record as soft to pander to the Tea Party and other GOP right-wingers.
“Judge Thomas would be a tremendous asset to the bench and community,” the petition reads. “He brings years of legal and judicial experience to the court. The time to act is now and therefore we request that Senator Rubio put politics aside and immediately issue a ‘blue slip’ allowing for Judge Thomas’ nomination process to move forward.”
Rubio’s hold on the so-called blue slip is the only barrier to Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearing.
Several media outlets, including the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times and Huffington Post, have opined that Rubio’s flip-flop on Thomas — rated “majority well qualified” by the American Bar Association — is motivated only by partisan politics because he was skewered by conservatives for backing immigration reform.
But Rubio is not budging.