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AJC POLITICS: Georgia judicial nominee expected to advance after GOP senator lifts roadblock

The path forward for a Georgia judicial pick now appears to be clear after a GOP senator dropped his hold on her nomination. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley indicated on Thursday morning that his panel would soon move to advance Britt Grant’s nomination for the powerful 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“Regardless of whether it’s a criminal defendant or the state of Georgia, every individual is equal under the law when they come to Justice Grant’s courtroom,” the Iowa Republican said. “I have confidence she’ll make an excellent appellate judge.”

Grassley’s comments came after U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced he was dropping his hold on President Donald Trump’s circuit  court nominees. That came hours after a Senate vote on a non-binding resolution Wednesday that effectively rebuked President Donald Trump’s trade strategy. 

Grant’s nomination had been held up by Flake for the better part of two months as he sought a vote on tariff-related issues and travel restrictions to Cuba. His blockade infuriated Georgia U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, who vouched for Grant, a 40-year-old state Supreme Court justice, at her confirmation hearing. 

Despite Grassley’s comments, the committee delayed a planned vote on Grant’s nomination on Thursday due to inadequate Republican attendance. But with Flake’s hold removed, Grant now appears to have enough support to move forward in the weeks ahead. 

Isakson on Thursday said Grant would be "an excellent addition to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals." 

“I urge the full Senate to act on her nomination as soon as possible,” he said. 

An Atlanta native, Grant worked for then-Congressman Nathan Deal and in the George W. Bush administration before rising to become Georgia’s solicitor general and eventually a state Supreme Court justice. 

Her credentials, however, have drawn criticism from some civil rights groups, which have cited her work on abortion-related issues and the Voting Rights Act while Georgia’s solicitor general. 

Trump has filled two other vacancies on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court with reliably conservative judges, former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Branch and ex-Alabama solicitor general Kevin Newsom. 

Two other Georgia judicial nominees, U.S. district court picks Billy Ray and Stan Baker, are also awaiting Senate confirmation. 

Read more: 

Trump packs influential Atlanta court with conservative judges

Isakson, Perdue livid about blocked Georgia judicial pick

Trump to nominate Justice Grant for federal appeals court

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.