We strongly support Obama's right to make the nomination, and the Republican notion that the next president should replace Scalia is not supported by law, history, or common sense. We also believe Garland is a reasonable choice--although probably not as liberal as we would prefer--and he should receive a full and fair hearing in the Senate. He also should receive a full vote, and if he is as solid and moderate as news reports suggest, he should be approved and seated on the SCOTUS bench sometime this summer.
Having said that, we are deeply concerned about some of Obama's judicial nominees in, or near, our home base of Alabama. Most troubling is his announcement on February 11 that he was nominating Birmingham-based U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
We made our feelings about that nomination clear in a post titled "Obama nominates Alabama federal judge Abdul Kallon to open seat on U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, proving incompetence still has its rewards."
Since the nomination Obama and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) have misused high-minded rhetoric in an effort to convince the public that nominating Kallon is a wise decision. The public should not fall for it.
Obama said "Judge Kallon has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions.” With all due respect to the president, for whom I have voted twice, that is bulls--t.
Rep. Sewell could hardly contain her glee and reacted with this: "What an awesome nomination! So excited [that] President Obama nominated Judge Kallon for the US Court Of Appeals. Judge Kallon has the integrity, keen legal acumen, and judicial temperament to make him a highly qualified appellate jurist!” That just shows that Sewell is a political hack who knows nothing about Kallon's actions as a judge or a lawyer.
Sewell also said, "This historic nomination could appoint the first African American from Alabama to this appellate bench." That suggests this is all about the color of Kallon's skin and not his abilities as a judge. And that's because his abilities as a judge are slim, at best. Even worse, Kallon has a demonstrated record of working against minorities--especially people of color and women. But Terri Sewll thinks he's an "awesome nomination." Is this woman drunk or clueless--or both?
We've shown that Kallon butchered two cases where my wife, Carol, and I were parties. And by "butchered," I mean he repeatedly failed to follow black-letter law. On at least one issue, his ruling was so off-the-charts wrong that it suggests he not only is incompetent, he's also corrupt. (More on that issue in an upcoming post.) In both cases, Kallon made sure to protect corporate or institutional interests over those of regular folks who had been wronged.
Specifically, Kallon protected the Ingram and Associates debt-collection law firm of Birmingham and corporate interests for which it works--including American Express and NCO, which is widely known as one of the most corrupt debt-collection outfits in the country. (See "The Debt Collector's Creed: Lie early and lie often.")
But Kallon's dubious actions go way beyond any rulings related to Carol and me. As a lawyer at the Birmingham firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (BABC), Kallon's main duty was to defend employers who faced allegations of discrimination. That's right . . . if you were a woman, a homosexual, a person of color, a person with a disability, or a person over the age of 40, and you faced discrimination in the workplace, Abdul Kallon was going to do his best to make sure you got shut out in federal court. To Kallon, civil rights are something to be trampled, not to be championed.
How do we know? Consider a case styled McCormack, et al v. Campus Crest Group, et al. (WD of NC, 2011). The case involved allegations that Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, headed then by CEO Ted Rollins, engaged in grotesque discrimination and harassment against female and black employees. Rollins, of course, has appeared regularly here at Legal Schnauzer because of his central role in a divorce case that caused his ex wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and two children to wind up on food stamps in Birmingham.
The McCormack lawsuit suggests Ted Rollins is no better as a manager than he is as a husband or father.
How bad was the racial environment at Campus Crest? This is from an earlier post, titled "How far will one company go to avoid hiring blacks":
Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, which develops student housing near college campuses, recently issued a $380-million IPO. But according to the lawsuit, the company takes specific steps to avoid hiring blacks for certain positions and fosters a racially hostile environment for the blacks who do work there.
Plaintiff Nicole McAuliffe says in the complaint that Campus Crest McAuliffe practiced blatant discrimination against people of color. She and other staff members were directed to hire predominantly young, white women to available positions at the company's various residential rental properties. She was directed to provide her superiors with photographs taken from the FaceBook or MySpace pages of all applicants she recommended to ensure they were not African American.
One supervisor told McAuliffe, “We have Southern investors; they do not like for us to hire blacks.” Another supervisor stated, "Once you hire an African American, you never can get rid of them because they think they are so entitled.” Several black administrative staff worked in a certain section of the corporate office, and that became known among higher-ups as the "hood."
So the area where blacks worked at Campus Crest was known as "the hood." But that is the least of the indignities black employees were made to suffer:
Qualified blacks--as well as qualified applicants over the age of 40--routinely were excluded from employment opportunities at Campus Crest's residential properties around the country, McAuliffe says.
CEO Ted Rollins joined in the fun at Campus Crest, according to the McCormack/McAuliffe complaint:
Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest, helped create the racially hostile environment, McCormack says. Rollins said one black property manager had caused a section of his apartment complex to fall into disrepair because he had been "throwing out his chicken grease at night."
McCormack faced questions when she hired a black female as one of her direct reports at the Charlotte office. "Who hired the black girl with the red hair?" said one of McCormack's superiors. McCormack says she was under constant pressure to terminate the new employee for false reasons.
Plaintiff Tammy Hughes-Brown says in the complaint that Rollins made it a practice to mimic the voice of a black male in her presence, insisting that he sounded just like Bernie Mac, the late African-American comedian.
For the company's 2009 annual meeting, Rollins and Chief Investment Officer Mike Hartnett presented a DVD that featured the two of them wearing large, 1960s-style "Afros." During a portion of the DVD, Hartnett mimics the voice of a black male, and both executives engage in sexually and racially charged remarks.
We've shown that Bradley Arant was the chief corporate law firm for Ted Rollins and Campus Crest Communities. Who helped defend the company against charges that it practiced nauseating racism against black employees? That was none other than Abdul Kallon. In fact, he only left the case when President Obama nominated him to a judgeship in the Northern District of Alabama. Records show that several lawyers from Charlotte helped represent defendants later, but Bradley Arant was front and center at the start.
I agree that lack of diversity on the federal bench is a concern, and qualified black candidates should be given strong consideration. But they should be persons of integrity and intellect and fairness, who hold the law in utmost respect.
Abdul Kallon is none of those things. He should not be on the federal bench, and he certainly should not be promoted.
As for Merrick Garland, we hope Obama actually has nominated a qualified individual. And we hope he receives a fair hearing in the U.S. Senate.
If Garland is as honorable as he appears to be (at the moment), we are all for him. If he is cut from the same cloth as Abdul Kallon, he should be summarily rejected.