Two politically influential black ministers are pushing for the appointment of Jamel Semper as New Jersey’s next US attorney.
“It is time for an African American to be appointed US attorney in this state,” said Reverend Ronald Slaughter, senior pastor at Saint James AME Church in Newark. “As a person of color, we just want our right shot of the American Dream. New Jersey has never had a black person to serve as a US attorney. The time has come and many are qualified to do so. “
Semper also has the support of Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury and the founder of Salvation and Social Justice, a grassroots organization that is a leading voice on social justice issues. .
“With the various race issues and revival of many of the lingering historical obstacles that black people face, the time is right,” Boyer said.
One of the top candidates for the post, Hudson County District Attorney Esther Suarez, withdrew her name from the exam on Wednesday night.
Semper, a U.S. assistant prosecutor who is currently head of the Organized Crime and Gangs Section, was one of seven names on a shortlist first reported by the New Jersey Globe in January. With Suarez out and Henry Klingeman no longer counted, the list now belongs to Semper and four former federal prosecutors: Philip Sellinger, Lee Vartan, Jenny Kramer and Ricardo Solano, Jr.
The White House has started to scrutinize Sellinger, a senior lawyer for Greenberg Traurig, has learned from the New Jersey Globe, but it is possible that other candidates have also entered the verification phase.
The senior US senator from New Jersey traditionally fills the post if his party controls the White House, in consultation with the junior senator.
These senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, did not comment on their choices.
Slaughter reiterated his strong support for Menendez.
“We want to be clear, we love and support our Senator and Senator Booker,” Slaughter said. “We know that it is hard work and that the choice of someone will not get the appointment of the lead senator.
Still, Slaughter is hopeful that Menendez, who made history as the first Hispanic to win a statewide office in New Jersey, will seek to break the glass ceiling of the state’s black community.
“We just want him to make history again by appointing an African American as the US attorney,” Slaughter said. “It would be historic especially since we cannot even get the George Floyd bill passed in this country.”
The pressure to see Semper as a US attorney comes nearly 100 years after Oliver Randolph became the first black person to serve as a US assistant attorney in New Jersey.
Randolph, the grandson of a slave who bought his freedom early in the Civil War, became a prominent Newark lawyer and became the state’s second black MP. He sponsored New Jersey’s anti-lynching laws.
Barely seven months, Randolph left the legislature to take the post in the United States Attorney’s Office. In 1947, he was the only African-American member of the New Jersey Constitutional Convention.