Judge Still Blocked by Senate Opponent; Sen. Chuck Grassley Has Said He's Concerned about Comments on Race

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

Circuit Judge Brian Davis is waiting for a confirmation vote that may never come.

Davis, who presides in Nassau County, was appointed by President Barack Obama to a federal judgeship in February. But nine months later the Senate hasn't voted on confirming him, and Davis' nomination will expire when Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

Obama could appoint Davis again when the new Congress is seated in January, but that doesn't mean a vote to confirm will be forthcoming.

He has drawn the opposition of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who accuses Davis of "viewing the world through a lens that I think is inappropriate and unacceptable for a federal court judge."

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved confirming Davis by a 10-7 vote, with all the Democrats favoring confirmation and all Republicans opposed. Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Grassley's opposition is based on several comments Davis made in the 1990s. In a 1994 speech he suggested Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign as U.S. surgeon general because she is black. In a 1995 speech he suggested that Henry W. Foster Jr. was filibustered as Elder's successor because he was black.

Elders lost her job after advocating masturbation as a means to staunch sexually transmitted diseases, and Foster was opposed by anti-abortion rights advocates because he had performed abortions during his career.

During his confirmation hearing in May, Davis said he made those comments in an attempt to engage the Jacksonville community on the topic of race. But in hindsight he has come to believe they were inappropriate for a sitting judge and he will not use that kind of language again.

"But I do not intend to step back from the work I've done in the community because I believe it's important that judges engage in the community," Davis said.

Grassley said Davis' comments at that hearing and written questions he answered later were unacceptable. …