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Judge Joseph Hatchett

Source: Tallahassee Democrat / Tallahassee Democrat

So—maybe Republicans are just racist. Maybe the people who act like critical race theory is Black supremacy and white slavery are just tired of seeing Black representation everywhere.

I just can’t think of another viable reason for why, in Florida, GOP legislators overwhelmingly voted against naming the federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Judge Joseph Hatchett, “the first Black judge since reconstruction to win a contested statewide race in Florida, defending his seat on the Florida Supreme Court–where he had been the first Black man to sit as a judge,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

The wild thing is it was damn near already a done deal. Six months ago, all 29 members of the Florida Congressional delegation supported a proposal by Congressman Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) to honor Hatchett, who died last April at age 88, by designating a courthouse on Adams Street as the “Joseph Woodrow Hatchett U.S. Courthouse Federal Building.” It was a bipartisan effort that was even sponsored by Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. It had already passed the Senate unanimously. But on Wednesday, when the measure was presented on the House floor, 10 Florida House members including Republican Panama City Rep. Neal Dunn voted it down.

“To witness, on the House floor, Republican vote changes (against) the bill during the final seconds of roll call was abhorrent,” Lawson said Thursday.

So what reasons did opponents of the measure give for blocking it?

From the Democrat:

Georgia Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde rallied opposition to the Hatchett designation because of a 1999 opinion Hatchett authored that prohibited prayer at public school graduations. 

“I let (that) be known,” Clyde said, according to Axios. 

Lawson lashed out Clyde for working against the bill: “Clyde is also one of the three members who opposed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act,” which now makes lynching a federal hate crime. 

So, Hatchett, who was not only the first Black judge on the state Supreme Court but was named by President Jimmy Carter as the first Black judge to serve on a federal appeals court in the South, wasn’t worthy of the honor because—he didn’t think public school graduations should host what would likely be exclusively Christian prayer circles? Are we sure that Clyde, who also is apparently against anti-lynching laws, isn’t just f**** racist?

Anyway, because of the sudden GOP 180 on the measure, the bill fell 45 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to designate the building in Hatchett’s honor.

“All but one of the 220 House Democrats who voted on the bill supported it,” the Democrat reported. “Just 19 of 205 Republicans, including six Floridians, voted yes.”

“Judge Hatchett was a true social justice pioneer and public servant,” Lawson said. “(He) was dedicated to his home state of Florida, where he served in many positions in the military and the federal and local justice systems. It would’ve been an honor to recognize such a leader.”

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