Conservative leaders oppose Biden judicial nominee over affiliation with Southern Poverty Law Center

Southern Poverty Law Center
The logo of the Southern Poverty Law Center. |

Conservative groups are slamming one of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees for her work on behalf of a company that has likened organizations that oppose abortion and same-sex marriage to “hate groups.”

In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council and more than two dozen leaders of conservative organizations expressed opposition to the president’s nomination of Nancy Abudu to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Specifically, they raised concerns about her employment with a “disreputable organization that has no business being a feeder for positions to any judicial office not even of a traffic court — let alone the second-highest court system in the United States.”

“Ms. Abudu currently serves as the strategic litigation director for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a corrupt organization infamous for its decades-long managerial corruption and notorious for unscrupulously designating its political opponents as ‘hate groups’ or ‘extremists,’” they wrote.

For example, the SPLC has labeled the Family Research Council, which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, an “anti-LGBTQ” extremist group.

“These destructive accusations have done real harm to many people. In the first conviction under the post-9/11 District of Columbia terrorism statute, the convicted terrorist was shown to have been motivated by the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ designation and related identifying information,” they added.

The pro-life activists recalled the incident in question, where the perpetrator used the SPLC’s “hate map” to target “the Family Research Council (FRC) and two other nearby groups in August 2012 for having beliefs supporting traditional marriage.”

While no one was killed in the “plan to commit mass murder,” the gunman who sought to carry out an attack on the socially conservative think tank “did shoot and critically wound FRC’s unarmed building manager who subdued him while wounded.”

“The shooter-domestic terrorist told the FBI that the source of his information was the SPLC. Worse yet, over the past decade, the SPLC has targeted an increasing number of policy groups with whom it has policy disagreements. Any group that disagrees with the SPLC about positions it advocates is deemed to be evil and worthy of destruction.”

A footnote in the letter includes a 2007 quote from an SPLC official who stated that “our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them.”

After noting that the SPLC labeled human rights activist and outspoken critic of female genital mutilation Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an “anti-Muslim extremist” and included future Republican presidential candidate and African American Dr. Ben Carson on its 2014 “extremist watch list,” the letter detailed Abudu’s relationship with the organization and called her judgment into question.

The letter also detailed the 2019 firing of SPLC founder Morris Dees and the resignation of other company leaders following allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Explaining how Abudu joined SPLC in February 2019, when “published articles attesting to the sleazy corporate culture at the SPLC” were readily available, the pro-life leaders suggested that her acceptance of a position there demonstrated that “she clearly did not look, or if she did learn about the toxic racial and sexual climate at the SPLC — she did not care about it.”

“Abudu’s acceptance of a senior litigation management role inside America’s largest political defamation factory disqualifies her from any position in which she would be expected to serve as an impartial arbiter of facts and law,” they concluded. “Furthermore, Abudu had no problem accepting a senior position at the SPLC when it was still being run by Morris Dees and Richard Cohen. She clearly lacks the temperament to be a federal judge with a lifetime appointment.”

The White House first announced Biden’s intention to nominate Abudu to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which is based in the southeastern U.S., on Dec. 23, 2021.

In a statement, the Biden administration touted the historic nature of Abudu’s nomination, primarily emphasizing her potential to become “the first African American woman judge ever to sit on the Eleventh Circuit, the second woman of color ever to sit on that court, and only the third African American judge ever to sit on that court.”

While the Biden administration praised Abudu as “extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution,” the letter spearheaded by Boykin proves that her nomination faces significant conservative opposition. In a Senate evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, at least one Democrat would have to join all Republicans to block Abudu’s nomination.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Biden has confirmed 40 federal judges to the bench. As White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain pointed out in a tweet, the president has appointed more than double the number of judges in his first year in office than former President Donald Trump, who made judicial appointments a centerpiece of his 2020 presidential campaign.

Biden still has a long way to go to match the number of judicial appointments made by his predecessor, who appointed 245 federal judges to the bench, including three Supreme Court justices, during his four years in office. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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