Norton adviser resigns after antisemitic remark about judicial candidate

Johnnie Scott Rice 
Fort Dupont, Washington, DC - A member of the commission that advises House Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) on judicial nominations has resigned after making an antisemitic remark about a candidate for the federal bench.

Johnnie Scott Rice stepped down this week at Norton’s request, according to a person familiar with the situation who is among those who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Norton’s office confirmed Thursday that Rice had stepped down but declined to comment further. Rice also declined to comment Thursday.

Norton’s 12-member Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission screens candidates for judicial vacancies, as well as other federal law enforcement leadership positions in D.C. The members, who are lawyers and non-lawyers, pass on recommendations to Norton, who in turn makes recommendations to the Biden administration.

During a commission meeting held online Monday, after interviewing a candidate for a judicial vacancy, Rice referred to the person as a “slick Jew,” according to another person with knowledge of the meeting.

Norton asked Rice to step down the next day. In an email to commission members Tuesday night, Rice apologized for her remarks, first reported by the Washington City Paper.

“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,” wrote Rice, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner and D.C. Council candidate in Ward 7.

“I spoke with Ms. Norton and accepted her request that I step down from the commission. May you all continue to do the good work of serving the residents of the city I was born and raise in.”

The commission is reviewing applicants for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Washington created after Judge Emmet G. Sullivan announced he will step back from active service next month.