Senator Rubio blocks nomination for first openly gay federal judge

By : Staff Report
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Miami-Dade – Senator Marco Rubio has blocked the appointment of the first openly gay judge to the federal bench in South Florida despite the fact that he supported the initial nomination less than a year ago.

Judge William L. Thomas

Judge William L. Thomas

Rubio interviewed Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas and supported President Obama’s nomination of him. Nominees must secure the approval of both U.S. senators in their home state. Senator Bill Nelson offered his approval the month prior. The Federal Judicial Nominating Commission then officially recommended Judge Thomas to become a Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

But this week Rubio changed his mind and has blocked confirmation hearings for Judge Thomas.

Rubio’s press secretary, Brooke Sammon, told the Daily Business Review Sept. 19 that the senator blocked Judge Thomas’ confirmation because the senator has “questions about his judicial temperament and his willingness to impose appropriate criminal sentences.”

Sammon cited two instances that Rubio decided “raised serious concerns about his fitness for a lifetime federal appointment.” In the first instance, Judge Thomas wept while giving an account of a brutal kidnapping, gang rape and murder at the killer’s sentencing in January. Despite the death sentence imposed on the killer, Judge Thomas added three life sentences.

In the second instance, Rubio’s office cited the case of a hit-and-run driver in Miami that killed a cyclist and provoked outrage in the cycling community. Many believed it was a DUI, though prosecutors said there was no evidence to support the claims. To correct any misconceptions about Judge Thomas’ sentencing in that case, the chief administrative judge for the criminal court sent a letter to Rubio’s office on Thomas’ behalf, to no avail.

The Miami-Dade and Broward Police Benevolent Associations and the League of Prosecutors wrote to Rubio’s office in praise of Judge Thomas, but the freshman Republican senator has not been moved.

A petition is being circulated that seeks 10,000 signatures asking Rubio to allow the process to move forward.

“Judge Thomas would be a tremendous asset to the bench and community 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,” the petition reads.

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