The Tuttle Report

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Judge Beverly Martin retired 18 months ago, yet her seat on the Eleventh Circuit bench remains empty. That may soon change.

On January 10, 2022, President Biden nominated to the appeals court Nancy Abudu of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The nomination stalled when the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked over Republicans’ criticism of her employer. On January 3, 2023, the nomination was “returned to the President,” who promptly renominated Ms. Abudu that very day. This time around, a newly-constituted Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 to favorably pass along the nomination. Ms. Abudu now awaits confirmation by the full Senate.

Getty Images/Tom Williams

Ms. Abudu would be the first Black woman to serve on the Eleventh Circuit.

In spite of (or because of) that historical fact, the nomination remains controversial. Just this week, a collection of Republican attorneys general, including Georgia’s own Chris Carr, sent a letter to the Senate objecting to Ms. Abudu’s nomination. The letter is filled with passages like this:

[S]he prefers to use her powerful position at SPLC to sow division and erode trust among Americans—declaring that “Jim Crow is still alive and well.” But as the Supreme Court has recognized (and as any fair-minded person knows): “Things have changed in the South.” Nw. Austin Mun. Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193, 202 (2009). Ms. Abudu’s contrary contention doesn’t show simple professional disagreement. It shows, at best, insuperable bias. It more likely shows dishonesty. And it certainly shows unfitness for judicial office.

“[A]s any fair-minded person knows,” indeed. The letter’s tone leaves one feeling that perhaps the signatories doth protest too much.

Objections like these prove just how urgently we need to elevate people like Ms. Abudu to our nation’s federal appeals courts. In the end, she has more in common with the namesake of the Eleventh Circuit’s main courthouse, Judge Elbert Tuttle, than any of the men and women who signed this letter.

One comment

  1. Ms Abudu sounds like an attorney who has passionately devoted her life to a just cause. When I read the criticism of the Republican AG’s, I considered their breathtaking silence on the recent actions of judge Matt Kacsmaryk in Texas and conduct of Justice Thomas. I hope she’s confirmed.


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