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Tallahassee Courthouse to be named for Joseph Hatchett after Republican Congressman changes his vote

U.S. Courthouse Tallahassee, FL
/ (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A Tallahassee federal courthouse will be renamed to honor Florida’s first Black Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Hatchett, who died last year.

“It's a just a, a tremendous honor for the family, for the community, and for history’s sake,” said Reverend R.B. Holmes, Pastor at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.

In a vote last month, it appeared this proposal would be blocked by a group of House Republicans, despite it gaining bipartisan support. Republican Congressman Neal Dunn initially voted against the bipartisan proposal, citing an opinion from Justice Hatchett in which he ruled against prayer at public school graduations.

“When we initially voted on this dedication, I felt the process with this bill was rushed and deserved more study,” said Dunn in a statement. “After reviewing the information for this designation, I wish we could have had an honest discussion and celebrated Judge Hatchett’s many achievements.”

Since his initial vote, Dunn received a letter from Reverend Holmes, attempting to change his vote. “Your decision was unconscionable, appalling, and wrong,” said Holmes in the letter.

Holmes said he and Dunn spoke after the letter, and in that conversation, Dunn informed him of his decision to vote in the affirmative of the courthouse renaming.

“I really appreciate the Congressman reaching out in a professional way, a civil way,” said Holmes. “So that's who Congressman Dunn is, that's why I felt that I could write him a letter to express my strong opinion about this, and he would not take it personal.”