MIAMI -

A groundswell of criticism is growing since Florida Senator Marco Rubio put the brakes on the promotion of a Miami-Dade judge.

Judge William Thomas was nominated to the federal bench, but without the senator's support, the process may go nowhere. Some of the judge's supporters claimed Wednesday that politics is trumping justice.

"We all want qualified, fair judges on the bench. Judge Thomas is very qualified. He's fair," said David Tucker, who created an online petition to reverse Rubio's block on Thomas' confirmation.

Tucker thought the confirmation was a done deal, but Rubio reversed his initial support, citing, "... concerns about Judge Thomas's fitness for a lifetime federal appointment... about his judicial temperament and his willingness to impose appropriate sentences."

Rubio cited two cases, including one where Thomas choked up while imposing one of two death sentences in a high-profile rape and murder case, one which was reversed.

Two weeks earlier, Thomas sentenced a hit-and-run killer to one year in jail, though his administrative judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney wrote to Rubio that it was a fair, compassionate, and legally-appropriate sentence.

"We don't know if it's political," said Yolanda Strader, president of the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association. "The reasons he provided were not as strong as one might suspect in order to blocking the confirmation process from proceeding."

"I would think it's a combination of a liberal jurist who happens to be gay, which sits afoul of the Senator's beliefs," added attorney Mario Cano.