May 14, 2014
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
The Honorable Charles Grassley
Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley:
On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide, I write to oppose the nomination of Michael Boggs to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Judge Boggs’ record raises serious and unresolved questions about his ability to fairly administer justice to all Georgians equally.
In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Boggs failed to adequately address his troubling record on issues of civil and reproductive rights during his time as a state legislator and as a state judicial candidate. Given the lifetime tenure of his proposed appointment, it is paramount that all questions regarding Boggs’ ability to fairly serve all Georgians regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity be resolved prior to confirmation. Yesterday’s hearing failed to alleviate concerns surrounding this fundamental qualification.
As a state legislator, Judge Boggs was a vocal proponent for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that not only prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriages, but recognition of all similar unions recognized by other states including civil unions and domestic partnerships. He described this restrictive ban that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Georgians from full constitutional citizenship as merely “common-sensical.” Throughout yesterday’s hearing, Judge Boggs stated that his personal views on issues like same-sex marriage would not play a role in his judicial decision-making. However, as a state judicial candidate in 2004 during a candidate forum for voters, Judge Boggs reiterated his commitment to his “common-sensical” opposition to same-sex marriage, urging voters to look to his record as a legislator to determine how he would serve as a judge. Throughout his hearing, Judge Boggs encouraged the committee to rely on his record as a judge when determining his qualifications, rather than his public actions as a legislator. However, he failed to provide an adequate explanation for his original reliance on personal belief and legislative record as the primary indicator of his future actions as a judge.
We also raise concerns regarding Judge Boggs’ forthrightness with the committee specifically pertaining to controversial areas of his record. Boggs failed to include pertinent information regarding his record as a state legislator in his January 14, 2014, questionnaire. In order to fully satisfy the questionnaire requirements, Boggs had to provide an additional 26 pages of information to the committee in April. His failure to undertake a serious review of his own record and to fully disclose critical areas of this record is troubling and suggests a lack of commitment to honesty to the judiciary. In addition to this initial hesitance regarding full disclosure of his record, we are deeply disturbed by his response to several questions at the hearing. When questioned regarding his vote in support of an amendment to a proposed Georgia state law that would publish the names of abortion providers, Judge Boggs stated that he was wholly ignorant at the time of the vote of any public safety issues that could arise from the amendment. He further insisted that he was unaware of any violence against abortion providers that took place prior to the 2001 vote – including clinic bombings and attempted murders of abortion providers. Given the high profile of these events, it is difficult to believe he was unaware. If true, his decision to support this dangerous amendment without understanding its implications is deeply troubling.
Due to this clear record of hostility towards equality in his home state as an elected official, and his continued failure to adequately address outstanding concerns regarding his ability to fairly serve all Georgians equally, HRC opposes his nomination to the federal bench. Fair-minded judges are essential in ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice, regardless of who they are or who they love.
Government Affairs Director
Human Rights Campaign
CC: Senate Judiciary Committee