Conservatives, Sheriffs and Sen. Perdue Block Obama’s Pro-Amnesty Judge Nominee

Kent D. Johnson /AP

President Barack Obama’s pro-amnesty nominee for a federal judgeship in Georgia has been blocked by Sen. David Perdue, following growing pressure from pro-American, pro-enforcement activists.

Perdue announced Wednesday he would block nominee Dax Lopez because of Lopez’s work with a business-backed, progressive pro-amnesty group. The group is called GALEO, or the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, which has worked to block enforcement of state immigration-related laws. Lopez joined GALEO in 2004, and quit in August 2015, one month after Obama nominated Lopez to the lifetime judgeship.

“I am particularly concerned with his continued participation with this organization and his public comments after he became a state judge,” said Perdue. “Unfortunately, our personal meeting, while cordial and informative, did not fully alleviate my concerns,” he said.

The Lopez defeat is also significant because it adds to pressure on GOP Senators to block all of Obama’s other pending judicial nominees. If the nominees are blocked, the next president — perhaps a GOP president — will have the opportunity to appoint other judges.

Perdue is one of Georgia’s two Senators. Under long-standing Senate practice, Senators get an informal “blue slip” veto over whether home-state judicial nominations get a nomination hearing at the Senate’s judiciary committee. Generally, once a nominee gets a committee hearing, they usually get approved by the committee and get confirmed by a Senate majority. By using the blue-slip veto to block Lopez’s hearing, Perdue ha likely blocked Lopez’s lifetime tenure in a federal judicial slot.

The state’s other GOP Senator, Sen.  Johnny Isakson, announced this month he would support a hearing for Lopez. His approval effectively endorsed Lopez’s nomination, even though Isakson would likely have cast a predictably futile vote against Lopez’s confirmation during the Senate’s floor debate.

Isakson faces a primary this year, and a November election.

Despite using the decisive blue-slip process against Lopez, Perdue downplayed his critical role. Instead, his statement suggested that his “concerns” about Lopez were widely shared and would cause Lopez’s defeat in any Senate nomination debate. “I believe similar concerns would be raised by many of my colleagues, making Judge Lopez’s final confirmation unattainable,” he said.

Perdue’s decision protects his conservative credentials and his long-term prospects in the party, which is rapidly moving in a populist direction, away from business’ interests.

Perdue’s decision follows a furious push-and-pull between two temporary alliances in the state.

The populist pro-enforcement alliance included numerous GOP state legislators, pro-American immigration-reform activists plus some sheriffs who opposed GALEO’s long-standing advocacy against enforcement of immigration law. The opposition to Lopez was galvanized by D.A. King, founder of the pro-enforcement Dustin Inman Society.

The pro-Lopez faction included business groups eager for more unverified migrant workers and for more welfare-funded migrant consumers. It included Latino politicians eager for more constituents, plus Democratic politicians eager for more Democratic-leaning Latino residents and voters. The pro-Lopez business-and-progressive coalition was backed by radio-host Eric Erickson.


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