White Finally Confirmed to Federal Bench in Missouri

Categories: Judiciary, News

Nearly 15 years after a thwarted nomination for a seat on the same bench, the Senate today confirmed the nomination of Ronnie White to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

White, who was nominated by President Obama last November, was first nominated by President Clinton in 1997 and again in 1999, when his confirmation was denied by a smear campaign – “one of the most unscrupulous I’ve seen in my entire career,” according to Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Then-Senator John Ashcroft used false data and misleading interpretations to baselessly assert that Mr. White was ‘soft on crime’ even though he had the support of Missouri’s leading law enforcement organizations. Ashcroft’s aggressive campaign to derail this nomination was nothing more than a campaign stunt intended to bolster his own re-election chances.”

That vote – which supporters of White said was tainted by race – was the first time in nearly 50 years that a district court nomination failed before the full Senate.

“Given this history,” Henderson said, “and with the recent memory of the unwarranted campaign against Debo Adegbile’s confirmation to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division still fresh in our minds, we hope that today’s vote is a sign that our Senate can learn from the mistakes of its past and confirm well-qualified nominees like Ronnie L. White.”

The Senate blocked Adegbile’s nomination in March after racialized portrayals surfaced in the media, most notably in a Washington Times racially tinged caricature.