“[I]t might surprise you that one senator, surprisingly a blue state Democrat with a 100 percent rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, now stands in the way confirming pro-choice, pro-civil rights nominees from states like Georgia that have anti-choice Senator willing to abuse senate rules.”
That’s the message that Credo Action, a liberal group claiming 3.4 million members, just delivered in an email campaign targeting Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT). As the email lays out, Leahy has thus far refused to abandon a relic of a largely dismantled patronage system known as the “blue slip,” which allows a single senator to effectively veto anyone nominated to a federal judgeship in their state.
Indeed, Leahy has honored the blue slip tradition despite the fact that one of his predecessors, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), largely abandoned it when Hatch was Judiciary Chair and President George W. Bush was in the White House.
Georgia’s two Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, wielded the blue slip to pressure the White House into a lopsided deal that includes four judges chosen by the Republican lawmakers and only two selected by President Obama. One of these nominees, Judge Michael Boggs, is now under fire from Credo and numerous other progressive organizations. As a state lawmaker, Boggs supported a “Choice Life” license plate that helped fund anti-abortion groups and a law requiring parents to accompany their daughters under the age of 18 to abortion clinics. He also opposed marriage equality, explaining that he cast this vote because “whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we have seldom had an opportunity to stand up for things that are common-sensical, things that stand up for Christian values.”
On Thursday, 27 progressive groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, MoveOn.org Civic Action and the Human Rights Campaign, sent a letter to Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee urging them to “oppose the confirmation of Michael Boggs to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.” Nevertheless, Credo’s email going after Leahy represents a significant escalation in tactics. “We’re disappointed that President Obama caved and nominated Michael Boggs,” Credo’s email reads. “But when you take a deeper look at the nomination it’s clear that the responsibility for this anti-choice, anti-civil rights judge being on the verge of securing a lifetime appointment belongs to Sen. Patrick Leahy.”
Credo also has a petition urging Leahy to “[s]top allowing Republican senators to blackball President Obama’s pro-choice nominees to the federal courts,” which can be read and signed at this link.