News that DeKalb State Court Judge Dax Lopez is on a three-person “short list” for a gubernatorial appointment to a Stone Mountain Circuit Superior Court seat should bring back memories for Gov. Brian Kemp. It was just a few years ago when then-President Barack Obama nominated Lopez for a federal judgeship but was blocked from Senate confirmation by Georgia’s two U.S. senators.
Chief among the critics in 2015-2016 were two sheriffs from large suburban Atlanta counties who cooperate with federal authorities under the federal 287(g) program to apprehend and deport illegal aliens. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren declared that Lopez’s service as a longtime director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) showed that he aligned himself with “a radical organization” that, in the words of Conway, “promotes blatant disregard of existing federal immigration laws.”
Sheriffs and other critics note that GALEO has long supported amnesty for illegal aliens and opposes local law enforcement cooperation under the 287(g) program. “From the moment we began working with ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) there has been a constant effort by GALEO to discredit, discourage and disband the partnership,” Warren said. “In fact, in my 38 years of law enforcement service in Cobb County… I have never seen an organization work harder against the interest of Georgians. They have insulted the front line of law enforcement officers that protect our nation’s borders while aggressively lobbying against legislation intended to protect our citizens here in Georgia.”
Three years ago Lopez’s opponents charged that his service as a GALEO director and fund-raiser was “a conflict of interest” since he and the lobbying group he oversaw opposed the very immigration enforcement laws that he is supposedly sworn to uphold. Critics today say nothing has changed, even though he eventually resigned from GALEO under fire.
Interviews will be occurring in coming days with Lopez and others to fill three open Superior Court judgeships, with the governor making the final decision.
Aside from Lopez, Governor Kemp will also consider State Court Judge Stacey Hydrick and State Court Traffic Division Judge Shondeana Crews Morris for the Stone Mountain Circuit Superior Court judgeship