DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez was a longtime board member and fundraiser with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) until he resigned under pressure when then-President Barack Obama nominated him for a federal judgeship. Ultimately, he was blocked from Senate confirmation by Georgia’s two U.S. senators. But now Lopez seeks a Superior Court judgeship.
The judge landed on Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment “short list”— along with State Court Judge Stacey Hydrick and State Court Traffic Division Judge Shondeana Crews Morris– for a Stone Mountain Circuit Superior Court judgeship.
Some GOP attorneys who appear before Lopez or who are friends naturally are urging the governor to appoint the one-time Obama nominee. But nothing has changed from 2016 when he was rejected over allegations that he is biased in favor of an “open borders” philosophy. Now, GALEO is backing their favorite judge by smearing Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren. A shrill May 15 email sent by GALEO’s executive director claims: “Sheriff Neil Warren’s views on immigration are aligned with more extreme anti-immigrant views and would work to alienate and create fear, which actually diminish public safety in Cobb County.”
It is true that chief among Lopez’s critics three years ago, aside from U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., were Warren and various other sheriffs. In fact, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and Warren wrote to Perdue that Lopez aligned himself with “a radical organization” that, in the words of Conway, “promotes blatant disregard of existing federal immigration laws.”
Critics are reminding the governor 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 constituted “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. At the time, various lawyers across the political spectrum said no judge should serve on the board of a political lobbying group. Governor Kemp is being reminded of that again.