Liberal Groups Lobby Senators To Reject Controversial Obama Judicial Nominee

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, abo
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, about the death of Nelson Mandela. Obama says the world has lost an influential, courageous and 'profoundly good' man with the death of anti-apartheid icon Mandela. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON -- More than two-dozen progressive groups are appealing directly to Senate Democrats to sink the confirmation of Michael Boggs, a judicial nominee they say is far too socially conservative.

In a Wednesday night letter to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 27 organizations -- including NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign, MoveOn and the National Organization for Women -- wrote that Boggs has a record that "lacks a demonstrated commitment to fairness and equal justice." The groups urged senators to vote against Boggs in committee.

"As organizations committed to protecting reproductive and civil rights, racial justice, and equality under the law, we write to voice serious concern about the nomination of Michael Boggs to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject this nomination," the letter reads.

The letter cites "troubling" actions Boggs took during his time as a state legislator in the Georgia House of Representatives. He co-sponsored legislation that would have created a "Choose Life" license-plate program to fund anti-choice organizations, and he advocated legislation that would have further tightened Georgia's parental-involvement law requiring parental notice prior to a young woman obtaining abortion care, with no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Beyond his actions affecting women's reproductive health, Boggs voted to keep the Confederate flag insignia on the state flag and voted to amend Georgia's constitution in order to ban gay marriage.

Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro Choice America, said her organization, for one, is prepared to hold Democratic senators accountable for the way they vote on Boggs if his nomination makes it to the Senate floor.

"If he moves through committee, we will actually be scoring senators' votes on this," Hogue said.

Their letter is the latest piece of a broader push by progressive groups to raise awareness of Boggs' record and put pressure on Democrats to sink his confirmation. Civil rights leaders -- including some who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama -- were the first to raise red flags about Boggs, with some vowing to testify against him during his confirmation hearing.

The reason that Boggs seems so out-of-step with Obama's past nominees is because he's part of a package deal struck between the president and Georgia's two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Under their agreement, six Georgia judicial nominees were put forward together. The president made significant concessions in the deal: four of the six nominees are GOP picks and just one is African-American, a fact that has angered Georgia Democrats who say the package doesn't reflect the population those judges would oversee. The trade-off for the White House is that other Georgia nominees in the package will now move forward after years of going nowhere.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for any of the Georgia nominees.

HuffPost reached out to all of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to see if they planned to support Boggs. None immediately responded.

Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said only that Boggs hasn't had his hearing yet, so Leahy will give a statement "at the appropriate time."

At least one Democrat on the committee is uneasy about Boggs' background.

"This letter raises legitimate and important questions about Judge Boggs’s record," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement. "I look forward to hearing him explain his positions fully before the Judiciary Committee when that time comes.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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