President Barack Obama has angered many of his political allies with his recent round of nominations for federal judges.
The nomination of Georgia State Appeals Court Judge Michael Boggs to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is at the center of the controversy.
Boggs’ nomination, part of a package of six judicial nominees floated by the administration in December, first gained the attention of civil rights leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus. While serving in Georgia’s state legislature, Boggs voted against a new Georgia state flag that would have removed a Confederate emblem added to it by segregationists during the Civil Rights movement. Many African-American elected officials say that vote alone is reason enough to disqualify Boggs from consideration as a federal judge.
Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama, teamed up with other members of Congress in urging the president to rescind Boggs’ nomination. When members of the CBC met with Obama adviser Valerie Jarret at the White House, she made it clear that removing Boggs’ name from the package was not an option.
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On Wednesday, abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America joined the list of those allies against the nomination.
“We’re extremely disappointed that pro-choice President Obama nominated someone who doesn’t share our pro-choice values,” the group said in an email sent to its supporters.
NARAL is also concerned by votes made by Boggs while he was a state legislator in Georgia. According to a petition sent out by the group, Boggs voted in the early 2000s to "channel funds to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and make a parental consent law even more extreme.”
Many see the nomination as the president's caving to pressure from conservative Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Under old Senate rules, senators effectively have veto power over judicial nominees in their home states. The deal struck between the Georgia lawmakers and Obama allowed the senators to choose four of the six judges in the nomination package.
”It's downright appalling that the Obama administration would give in to right-wing obstruction and nominate ... an anti-choice, anti-equality candidate for the federal bench," said Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive group Democracy for America. "Putting forward a right-wing candidate that would make George W. Bush think twice for a lifetime judicial appointment isn't horse-trading; it's caving on core progressive values, period.”