Critics Question Boggs' 'Bias'
Conservative views make him unsuitable as Obama nominee for U.S. judge, they say
When federal judicial nominee Michael Boggs recounted bills he had sponsored as a Georgia legislator in a questionnaire for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, he sounded earnest and, occasionally, even a little dull.
But his list of legislation—which included strengthening the state's child pornography laws, rewriting the state Probate Code and requiring criminal background checks for bail bondsmen—didn't mention his sponsorship of far more controversial measures reflecting a conservative political agenda at odds with the president who has nominated him to the U.S. District Court.
Boggs, who served as a Democrat from 2001 to 2004 in the Georgia House of Representatives, made no mention of a resolution he introduced in the House in 2004 calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Speaking on the floor of the House, Boggs said the amendment was "premised on good conservative Christian values" and intended to guard against rulings by "activist judges" who might overturn a state law that already barred gay marriage.
Now a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, Boggs also failed to mention his sponsorship of bills that remain anathema to progressive Democrats—enacting more limits on abortion and placing the Ten Commandments in Georgia's 159 county courthouses—and his vote to retain the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag.
A lawyer from the southeast Georgia district Boggs used to represent said Boggs was merely reflecting his conservative, "Bible Belt" constituency by promoting those legislative efforts. He and another attorney who also tried cases before Boggs when he was a Superior Court judge in Waycross said Boggs would have no trouble separating his advocacy role as a legislator from his mandate as a judge to fairly and impartially administer the law.
But Boggs' legislative record has provided fodder for more than two dozen national progressive and civil rights organizations that are urging the Democratic-controlled Senate to reject his nomination.
Boggs could not be reached for comment and—like other federal judicial nominees—has avoided comment on issues associated with his nomination.
Boggs' nomination is part of a package deal that the White House cut with Georgia's two Republican senators last year. That deal allowed U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss to name one nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and three of four nominees to the district court.
In return, Isakson and Chambliss have reportedly agreed to lift their objections to Atlanta litigator Jill Pryor, whose nomination to the Eleventh Circuit they have stalled for two years. Pryor's nomination has been championed by her longtime law partner, Emmet Bondurant, the former chairman of Georgia Common Cause who has challenged Republican-sponsored measures such as Georgia's voter photo ID law.
The deal also has Georgia's senators agreeing to the nomination of Leigh Martin May, whose candidacy for the federal bench they first rejected in 2009. May, a co-founder of the Red Clay Democrats, is a law partner of James Butler Jr., one of the state's most prominent plaintiffs attorneys.