MadProfessah has been following this curious story for quite some time. It has since became clear that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was the primary impediment to Judge Thomas making history but for reasons that have not been made public.
Huffington Post reported:
Rubio has been single-handedly blocking Thomas for months, despite recommending him to Obama in 2012 as a nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Rubio indicated in September he would not submit his "blue slip" to the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a courtesy, but not a hard rule, honored in the committee that allows a home-state senator to advance or hold up a nominee. Florida's other senator, Bill Nelson (D), submitted his blue slip months ago.
"Judge Thomas is a well-qualified jurist," Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) told HuffPost in the fall. "There is a serious underrepresentation of minorities on the bench and partisan obstructionism isn’t making it any better."
Hastings is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has railed against Rubio for blocking black judicial nominees at a time when the group says black judges make up about 8.3 percent of the federal judicial bench. In addition to Thomas, Rubio had been withholding his blue slip for another black judicial nominee, Brian Davis. But Rubio ultimately agreed to move forward with Davis, who has since been confirmed.
“I am upset and concerned. Senator Marco Rubio himself said that Judge Thomas had passed all the tests, and then all of sudden for Senator Rubio to say Judge Thomas is not suitable is just not right," Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said Tuesday. "I don’t know what more I can do to make Senator Rubio understand that what he is doing is wrong.”The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued a statement condemning the actions by Sen. Rubio in killing the Thomas nomination:
"We need more diversity in the federal judiciary, not less and it's disappointing that Judge William Thomas was not included among the nominees the White House submitted to the Senate this week. Judge Thomas is an eminently qualified jurist and, if confirmed, would have been the first openly gay black male to serve on the federal bench. Senator Marco Rubio's procedural maneuvering to stop this nominee was unacceptable and harmful given that the vacancy on the Southern District Court of Florida has been classified as a judicial emergency. Senator Rubio's actions are in no way helpful to the people of Florida."Hopefully President Barack Obama will not have difficulty finding another openly gay Black man who could be nominated to a federal judgeship. This is a historical first that I would like to see completed.