US judicial nominee seeks to reverse senator’s opposition

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi prosecutor is asking one of his home-state senators to reconsider her opposition to his nomination to become a federal district judge.

Scott Colom, who is District Attorney in four counties, refutes many of the reasons Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith stated for opposing President Joe Biden’s nomination of him to the bench, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

“I hope you will reconsider your views about my nomination,” Colom wrote in the April 10 letter. “If there are other issues of concern to you, I would welcome the opportunity to address those, either in person or on a call.”

U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills announced last year that he will take senior status, creating the post to which Biden nominated Colom. Mississippi has two federal districts — northern and southern. If Colom were confirmed by the Senate, he would be the second Black judge in the northern district.

A Senate tradition requires senators from a nominee’s home state to submit “blue slips” if they approve of the nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee typically does not hold a confirmation hearing without receiving a blue slip from both senators in the nominee’s state.

Hyde-Smith has said she opposes Colom’s nomination because progressive organizations supported his initial campaign for district attorney.

George Soros, a New York billionaire who backs some criminal justice reform efforts, gave money to Mississippi Safety and Justice, a political action committee that supported Colom’s 2015 race for district attorney. Soros did not contribute directly to Colom’s campaign.

“I never requested these funds from Mr. Soros,” Colom wrote to Hyde-Smith. “I did not know the money would be contributed — and did not even learn of the contributions until l read about them in my hometown paper.”

Hyde-Smith has said one of her reasons for blocking Colom’s nomination is because of concerns about his opposition to “legislation to protect female athletes.” Colom signed a letter with other prosecutors in June 2021 condemning efforts to criminalize gender-affirming care for transgender people.

“This statement that I signed did not comment on legislation specifically related to participation in athletics,” Colom wrote to Hyde-Smith. “Moreover, I would note that if confirmed as a judge, any views I had about policy matters would be irrelevant to my daily work, and I would faithfully apply binding Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent to the cases that came before me.”

Colom is the district attorney in Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay, and Noxubee counties. He is the first Black prosecutor in those counties, defeating the longtime incumbent Forrest Allgood in 2015. Colom was unopposed when he won a second term in 2019.

About 20 crime victims or relatives of crime victims in Colom’s district wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of his nomination, according to documents reviewed by the Daily Journal.

“Crime is not tolerated in his district and victims do not continue to pay a price under his watch,” Sharicka Gray wrote in one letter.

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Categories: State News