Metro Weekly

Obama continues to back controversial judicial nominee

Image: Michael Boggs testifies at his May 13 confirmation hearing. Credit: Senate Judiciary Committee.
Image: Michael Boggs testifies at his May 13 confirmation hearing. Credit: Senate Judiciary Committee.

President Barack Obama is standing behind a controversial judicial nominee, despite the fact that fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill appear to have doomed his confirmation.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that the president will not ask Michael Boggs to withdraw his nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

“As we’ve discussed a couple times the president believes that Judge Boggs has the necessary qualifications to serve in this role,” Earnest said. “That’s why the president nominated him.”

The White House’s support for Boggs comes after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told The New York Times that Boggs’s nomination does not have the support to be advanced to the Senate floor.

“He doesn’t have the votes,” said Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Boggs was nominated by Obama in December as part of a compromise with Georgia’s Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and John Isakson, to fill six judicial vacancies in Georgia. Boggs’s legislative record from when he served as a Democrat in the Georgie House of Representatives, from 2000 to 2004, dominated his confirmation hearing in May as Democratic senator after Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee questioned whether his conservative political views on same-sex marriage, abortion and the Confederate flag would inform his decisions on the federal bench. 

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“My personal opinion was, at the time, over a decade ago, that I was in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. My position may or may not have changed since that time, as many peoples’ have over the last decade,” Boggs said at his hearing. “Moreover my position on that as reflected by those personal comments in 2004 have never had any import whatsoever in how I decided cases or how I analyzed issues both as a trial court judge and an appellate court judge.”

Boggs, who has been a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals since January 2012 and served as a superior court judge from 2004 to 2012, told the committee that the “best evidence of the type of judge I will be is the record of the type of judge I have been. I don’t think my legislative record that’s over a decade old is indicative of what type of judge I might be on the federal district court.”

In a June 4 letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 25 organizations, including several LGBT-rights groups, warned that confirmation of Michael Boggs to the federal bench “would undermine the future of civil and human rights jurisprudence in the Northern District Court of Georgia.”

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