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Johnnie Scott Rice stepped down from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton‘s judicial nomination commission at the congresswoman’s request after referring to one candidate as a “slick Jew,” a person familiar with the group’s deliberations tells LL.
Rice, 80, apologized to members of the commission Tuesday in an email announcing her resignation.
“I am writing to apologize to each and everyone of you for my actions in our meeting last evening please forgive me for the statement made in reference to one of the candidates seeking the position we are interviewing for, it was an ugly out burst from a long pass encounter with the candidate,” Rice wrote.
“So again please forgive me for my actions I spoke with Ms. Norton and accepted her request that I step down from the commission,” she continued. “May you all continue to do the good work of servings the residents of the city I was born and raise in.”
Rice declined, in an email, to comment. Norton also declined to comment through a spokesperson.
Rice was one of 14 members on Norton’s Law Enforcement Nominating Commission tasked with interviewing and recommending candidates for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The commission will recommend three candidates for Norton to choose from. She will pick one to send to President Joe Biden, who granted her senatorial courtesy in his appointments to the federal judiciary that have jurisdiction in D.C. Norton also makes recommendations for U.S. Attorney for D.C., and U.S. Marshal, and U.S. District Court.
Former Justice Department official Channing Phillips was recently appointed as U.S. Attorney on an interim basis and will replace outgoing Trump appointee Michael Sherwin. Norton tells the Washington Post she did not play a role in Phillips’ recent appointment, though she supports him and recommended him for the job in 2015. She forwarded a different nominee for the District’s top prosecutor to Biden but declined to tell the Post who it is.
Rice has been in and around local politics for decades. She ran several unsuccessful campaigns for D.C. Council, including a 2000 general election loss to Kevin Chavous for the Ward 7 seat when she ran as a Republican. She also served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 7, and as former At-Large Councilmember David Catania‘s constituent services director, according to previous news reports. Rice is currently the board chairperson for the United Black Fund. The vice president for the UBF did not immediately respond to LL’s email seeking comment.