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Federal judgeship maneuvering begins

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published March 15, 2009

Last week's announcement by U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus of Youngstown that he will be stepping down from full-time service in July has opened the succession floodgates. The list of hopefuls will continue to grow, but in the end, the selection will be made by President Barack Obama. The U.S. Senate will hold a confirmation hearing on Obama's nomination, after a review by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If established procedure is followed, the two senators from Ohio will submit a name to the White House. In fact, Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, will hold sway because a Democrat is president. Economus was nominated by former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

And Brown will undoubtedly consider the opinions of a wide array of people — business, political and community leaders —  in the federal court's northern district.

But it would be naive to believe that politics will not come into play, which is why the filling of the vacancy offers so much intrigue. 

In last year's primary election, only one prominent businessman in the Mahoning Valley publicly backed Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois. His name: Herb Washington, owner of many McDonald's franchises and former owner of the Mahoning Valley SteelHounds hockey team.

Washington hosted a fundraiser for Obama at his home and unlike other businessmen, did not hedge his bets. Some prominent business leaders in the region supported then Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NewYork.

Given that appointments to the federal bench are for life, presidents take their nominating responsibilities seriously. The Obama White House can be expected to look very closely at the recommendations made. It would naive to believe that in the case of the Economus position, administration officials would not seek Washington's input.

Thus the question: All things being equal, would a black applicant have an advantage over a white given that the president of the United States and his chief supporter in the Valley are both black?

There certainly wouldn't be anything wrong in race being a factor — all things being equal, of course.


1Askmeificare(1042 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

My wise and respected friend, Mr. De Souza, I believe that is a question only Bob Hagan can answer. I will try to answer, however.

A white applicant makes sense only because the chief supporters here are black and their white front man can easily push their agendas with little questions asked from the white public majority, as well as the black public who are now more trusting of the white community, respect to Obamas' election.

A black applicant would magnetize more agenda scrutiny because of the perception of being backed by black power brokers, hence more invasive investigative reporting on a slow news day, always questioning intent.

One may spin this "appointed political post" from the "secret agendas" any way they like with this topic and every spin would have a bit of truth to it, but the best decision would be a non - white and a non - black.

Enter the new mass societal and political evolution from our national leaders. For the moment, it would be hands free and "clean free" hesitantly and quietly awaiting to show its loyalties to both politics and racial bindings.

Bob Hagan my friend, buy your ticket, place your bets and get on board. And don't forget your copy of that WKBN 570 AM radio pre presidential election broadcast. Yeah, you know which one.

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