In a victory for civil rights, abortion rights, and LGBT equality groups, President Obama will not re-nominate former Georgia legislator Michael Boggs to a lifetime position on the federal bench. Boggs, who was nominated last December as part of a deal with Georgia’s two Republican senators, did not receive a confirmation vote in the Senate before it adjourned.
During his time in Georgia’s House of Representatives, Boggs compiled a rather conservative voting record. Though nominally a Democrat, he campaigned on his “quality conservative Christian values,” including opposing marriage equality, opposing “homosexual Boy Scout leaders,” and supporting school prayer.
Boggs drew the opposition of civil rights legend and Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D) — as well as Rep. David Scott (D-GA), another member of the Congressional Black Caucus — for his record, including a vote to keep the Confederate battle emblem as part of the Georgia state flag.
Abortion rights advocates opposed his confirmation based on his support for granting “personhood” to fetuses, his backing of an expanded parental notification law, and his co-sponsorship of a “Choose Life” license plate that helped fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. In his May confirmation hearing, Boggs said he regretted a vote to post personal information about abortion providers online, despite the history of clinic violence against doctors.
Boggs also was opposed by LGBT organizations as he enthusiastically endorsed a 2004 effort to amend Georgia’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. He called the proposal “commonsensical” and “premised on good conservative Christian values,” while warning of the specter of “activist judges” who might grant equal protection to same-sex Georgians. Boggs became a state judge soon after, and is currently on Georgia’s Court of Appeals.
While his voting record made him an unlikely nominee for a pro-choice, pro-LGBT Democratic president, he was nominated as part of a deal with Georgia’s Republican Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson to allow committee votes on six judges, four selected by the Republicans. Boggs was the only nominee not confirmed. The deal was necessary due to an arcane Senate Judiciary Committee tradition requiring that judicial nominees receive the support of both home-state senators to get a committee vote.
According to Politico, the White House confirmed Wednesday that it will not nominate Boggs again in 2015. With a new Republican majority in the Senate, his conservative record would likely have been less of an obstacle had his name been resubmitted. Chambliss (who did not seek re-election in November) and Isakson jointly said they “regret the President’s decision” and “remain steadfast” in supporting Boggs.