Around Washington for Monday, June 10, 2013

A federal judge for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, made waves this past week when The New York Times reported she allegedly used racially and religiously charged comments during a private speaking engagement.

As a result, a group of civil rights organizations filed a formal complaint of misconduct against 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith H. Jones, 64, who works out of Houston.

One of the first politicians to support the complaint was U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, who wrote to the court’s chief judge, Carl Stewart, of Shreveport, to complain about the alleged comments by Jones, who assumed then bench in 1985 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

When Republicans are in the White House, Jones is a frequently named candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court.

She has refused comment on the resulting controversy.

Richmond called it “appalling” that Jones allegedly suggested that black and Latino persons are “more predisposed to violent crimes than other ethnic groups.”

Richmond also said the alleged comments that Jones supported limiting legal counsel for defendants in death penalty cases and that Jones indicated mentally disabled people should be eligible for the death penalty.

“These comments, if true, demonstrate an inherent discriminatory outlook by Judge Jones on a number of critical issues, which, of course, would preclude her from exercising the required impartiality to properly administer the requirements of her position,” Richmond wrote.

Landrieu seeks adoption solution

Sen. Mary Landrieu, who co-chairs the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, wrote to President Barack Obama this past week with other elected officials urging him to seek a solution this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin on his nation’s new ban on Americans adopting children from Russia.

Obama and Putin are participating in this month’s G8 Summit meetings. Nearly 300 pending adoptions of Russian orphans by American families were put on hold when Russia implemented the ban.

“Politics between the United States and Russia have become personal to several hundred Russian orphans and the families in the United States hoping to adopt them. These are children without parents, families or homes. Many are in need of urgent medical care; all are in need of a future filled with promise,” the letter reads.

“We ask you to raise this issue with President Putin directly in the hopes that two world leaders can step back for a moment and find a way out of the political morass for a few hundred wounded children.”

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, was among those to sign onto the letter.

Landry backing Ga. candidate

Former Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, may be out of office but he is staying politically active.

He formed a new political action committee, or “super PAC” — the Restore our Republic PAC – earlier this year, which made its first endorsement this past week.

Landry’s PAC is backing Republican Georgia state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who is running for Georgia’s congressional 11th District next year.

The announcement described Loudermilk as a “constitutional conservative” fighting for limited government.

“State Sen. Barry Loudermilk is a strong free-market conservative who has demonstrated unwavering commitment to constitutional principles, and that is exactly the kind of person we need in Washington,” Landry stated.

Landry also has vowed to be active in next year’s 6th Congressional District race in Louisiana. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is vacating the seat by running for the Senate.

FEMA authorizes N.O. grants

Landrieu and Richmond jointly announced Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized $15.4 million in Hurricane Katrina-related disaster recovery grants for water line replacements and port improvements in New Orleans.

The largest grant is $10.1 million to the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to replace damaged water line segments in the New Orleans neighborhoods of Villa De Lest, Pines Village, Lake Terrance and Oaks and Central City.

The $5.3 million in grants to the Port of New Orleans are to renovate the Julia Street Cruise Terminal and to fund a new “cold storage facility” at the France Road Scales Terminal.

Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@the advocate.com.