March 31, 2022

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Statement about Bill Renaming Federal Courthouse in Honor of First Black Florida Supreme Court Justice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) issued the following statement about the U.S. House of Representatives not passing (S.2938/H.R.4771) the Joseph Woodrow Hatchett U.S. Courthouse bill that would name the U.S. Courthouse of Northern Florida in Tallahassee, as the “Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett U.S. Courthouse,” in honor of Florida’s first Black Supreme Court Justice.

“I am extremely disappointed in my Republican colleagues who voted against the measure, especially since the bill passed unanimously in the Senate. The companion bill which was led by Senator Rubio received bipartisan support and conservative members of the Florida Delegation signed onto the bill as co-sponsors. To witness on the House Floor, Republican votes change in disapproval of the bill during the final seconds of roll call was abhorrent.

“Furthermore, the Republican Congressman of Georgia, Andrew Clyde who prompted the opposition of the bill by sharing a 1999 ruling by Judge Hatchett, in fact, followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lee v. Weisman regarding student prayer in public schools. Clyde is also one of the three Members who opposed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.

“Judge Hatchett was a true social justice pioneer and public servant who devoted his career to advocating for civil rights. Hatchett was dedicated to his home state of Florida, where he served in many positions in the military and the federal and local justice systems. It would’ve been an honor to recognize such a leader.

“The final vote for the measure was 238-187. Unfortunately, it did not receive the two-thirds majority to head to President Biden’s desk.”


Rep. Lawson’s bill had the entire Florida Delegation as co-sponsors, including Rep. Matt, Gaetz (FL-01); Rep. Neal P. Dunn (FL-02), Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03); Rep. John Rutherford (FL-04), Rep. Michael Waltz (FL-06) Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Rep. Bill Posey (FL-08), Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), Rep. Val Demings (FL-10), Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-11), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) Rep. Charlie Crist (FL-13), Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14), Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-15), Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Rep. Gregory Steube (FL-17), Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL-19), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Rep. Carlos Gimenez (FL-26), Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27).