Saturday, October 09, 1999

Rev. Lowery criticizes senators for blocking nominee for judge

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Calling it a “judicial lynching” that indicates elitist, racist forces are threatening to remake the United States, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery chided U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine for rejecting an African-American federal judge nominee.

        The keynote speaker at Friday's 44th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner, sponsored by the NAACP Cincinnati branch, the Rev. Lowery called for a return to activism and a rebirth of spiritualism in the African-American community.

        He pointed to Tuesday's Senate vote rejecting Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White for a U.S. District Court seat as an example of those in power who resist diversity and minority empowerment.

        “He has been made a scapegoat for Republican political chicanery,” the reverend said of Justice White.

        Nominated by President Clinton, Justice White had been waiting for two years for Senate consideration.

        However, in a party-line vote of 54 to 45, Republicans rejected Justice White because they said he was soft on criminals. They said he opposed the executions of two criminals who committed brutal crimes.

        “Seventy percent of his decisions were in favor of the death penalty,” the Rev. Mr. Lowery said. He added that Mr. DeWine feels no accountability to the minority community, and that Mr. Voinovich forgot that minorities helped to elect him to his current position.

        Neither Mr. DeWine nor Mr. Voinovich could be reached immediately for comment Friday.

        “We have deserted the good spouse of spirituality and are shacking up with the prostitutes of materialism and greed,” he told a gathering of more than 200 people. “This is an incestuous affair producing offspring with congenital defects such as racism, drug addiction, gun addiction, and economic disparity.”

        The reverend said he intends to contact Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush to see what he thinks of the Senate decision.

        “Since the (Republican Party) is beckoning to black voters to come home to the Republican Party, I want to know where he stands. Is this the party of (Abraham) Lincoln or the party of (U.S. Sens. Jesse) Helms and (Trent) Lott?” he asked.

        “If it is the latter we want no parts of it,” the reverend said.

        The Rev. Mr. Lowery founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is a retired United Methodist minister and former SCLC president.

        The conference focused on nonviolent protests as well as community development programs within the African-American community.


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