The judge has been accused of violating the constitution and the Voting Rights Act, and he’s being sued by the NAACP.
But a new book by a leading black civil rights lawyer and former Obama Justice Department official paints a picture of a judge who is more interested in upholding the constitution than protecting minority voting rights.
Judge Robert Jackson was one of three black judges on the federal bench when President Bill Clinton was inaugurated.
He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, where he ruled that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction over the lawsuit over the voting rights act, known as Section 5.
The lawsuit filed in April by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges that Jackson, a retired judge from the Southern District of Alabama, used his judicial discretion to ignore a 2011 Supreme Court decision that would have ended the requirement for federal courts to review the constitutionality of state laws passed by state legislatures.
The ruling by Justice Anthony Kennedy on the constitution challenge is the one that President Barack Obama signed in 2012.
Jackson has been a member of the 6-3 Republican majority on the appeals court for nearly 40 years.
His office said it did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also filed a lawsuit in July seeking to enjoin Jackson from using his position to block or limit voting rights cases.
A former federal prosecutor and law professor at Columbia University, Michael Cohen, said in an interview with The Associated Press last week that Jackson was a “wonderful judge.”
Cohen, who was a partner at the law firm of Hogan Lovells in Alabama, said Jackson’s rulings were generally “fair and thoughtful,” and he found his rulings to be “more informed and less prejudicial than the opinions of many of the judges who ruled against us.”
He said Jackson, as a former federal judge, was likely a better judge on a number of issues, including voting rights, than many of his colleagues.
The NAACP sued to block Jackson’s use of his position in the Supreme Senate to block a lower court decision that said states can use the Voting Access Act to change election laws, or require people to show photo identification at the polls.
The group argues that a federal court decision by Kennedy in 2011 that would effectively stop the law from being used to restrict voting rights would have the same effect on minority voters.
Jackson, who has never been elected to the federal appeals court, was nominated to the appeals courts by President George W. Bush in 2003.
He was confirmed in 2013 and 2016.
The Voting Rights Action Fund, a civil rights advocacy group, called Jackson a “true champion of voting rights” in an emailed statement to The Associated News.
The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment about whether it had reviewed the lawsuit or its allegations.
The Trump administration has declined to take a position on the suit.
Cohen said that, while he believes that there is merit in the NAACP’s claim that Jackson violated the Voting Act, he also said that “this case does not involve the constitution.”
He added that, “Judge Jackson is not the first judge to use his judicial authority to violate the Voting Section 5 rights of minority voters in Alabama.”
The NAACP Legal Action Center, a legal group, said that the voting act has been used to “prosecute more than a dozen black citizens in federal courts since 2000.”
The group said it would appeal the ruling.