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Reverend requests Rep. Dunn to reconsider vote on renaming Tallahassee federal courthouse

Rev. RB Holmes sent letter to Rep. Neal Dunn
Neal Dunn
Jimmy Carter, Reubin Askew
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 17:00:13-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Tallahassee-based pastor has requested a U.S. congressman that represents portions of Tallahassee and Leon County to reconsider his vote on renaming a federal courthouse.

Reverend RB Holmes of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee sent a letter to U.S. Congressman Neal Dunn dated Friday requesting the congressman reconsider his no vote on renaming the federal courthouse in Tallahassee in honor of Joseph Hatchett.

In the letter to Rep. Dunn, the Rev. Holmes noted he served as Hatchett’s pastor for more than 35 years and added Hatchett was a faithful member of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

In the letter, Holmes requested that Dunn should lead an effort to “do over” the vote for the bill in congress to rename the federal courthouse after Hatchett.

ABC 27 sent a request for comment to Rep. Dunn's office Friday afternoon.

The United States House of Representatives voted on a bill on March 30 to rename the federal courthouse, located at 111 North Adams Street in Tallahassee, to the “Joseph Woodrow Hatchett United States Courthouse and Federal Building”.

Hatchett, an African American, was the first Black Florida Supreme Court justice from 1975-79.

Hatchett died April 30, 2021 at age 88.

Although the bill received majority support in the House, the bill needed 2/3 majority yes votes to pass.

The bill did not obtain the 2/3 yes majority votes needed to pass.

The bill had initial support from the Florida delegation in the U.S. Congress.

The bill was co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. The bill passed in the United States Senate unanimously Dec. 9, 2021.

The bill in the House of Representatives was co-sponsored by all of Florida’s House of Representative congresspersons, which included Dunn, a Republican who represents Florida's 2nd Congressional District.

U.S. Congressman Al Lawson, a Democrat, representing Florida's District 5, a district that includes parts of Florida’s capital city and Leon County, noted after the failed vote in the House that before the vote occurred, Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, a Republican from Georgia, shared a 1999 ruling that Hatchett made on school prayer in a public school district in Florida when Hatchett served on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal.

According to an Associated Press article on the 1999 ruling, Hatchett wrote the majority opinion that determined the Duval School district’s policy to allow students to pray during graduation ceremonies violated constitution protections of freedom of religion.

Lawson believes the sharing of the decision led to the change of votes at the last minute, which led to the bill’s demise.

The failure of a seeming popular bill received national attention from the New York Times.