The consequences of the Republican Party’s takeover of the U.S. Senate this week are already being felt as reports have surfaced that Michael Boggs may get a second shot at being named to the federal bench.
Boggs, a Georgia Court of Appeals judge and former Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives, drew fierce opposition from Democratic senators and several progressive organizations, including LGBT organizations, after being nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by President Obama last December. He couldn’t get enough votes to advance and his nomination appeared dead in September.
“I would be cautiously optimistic” about Boggs’ nomination going forward, said Randy Evans, a McKenna Long & Aldridge partner with close connections to state and national Republicans. Evans, who co-chairs Gov. Nathan Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission, said he does not expect Boggs to get a confirmation vote during Congress’s upcoming lame duck session while Senate Democrats still hold the majority.
Evans also said that, given the president’s commitment to Boggs and the deal that led to his nomination, the Georgia appellate judge would have “a reasonable chance” of securing a newly constituted Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval and then winning a simple majority of the Senate under relaxed filibuster rules adopted last year.
During Boggs’ two terms in the General Assembly, from 2001 to 2004, Boggs voted in favor of keeping the Confederate flag emblem as part of the state flag and and publicly naming doctors who provide abortions. He also introduced a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Boggs also argued while serving in the Georgia legislature against “activist judges” that he believed were working to bring marriage equality to same-sex couples.
HRC Atlanta and Georgia Equality sent a letter to U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss in May urging them to reconsider voting in favor of Boggs’ nomination.
“It is our strong belief that this appointment would undermine the progress of the LGBT community in Georgia and across the country,” said Molly Simmons, Atlanta Member of HRC’s Board of Directors, in a prepared statement at the time. “All Georgians deserve judicial officials who will treat them equally under the law and we urge Senators Isakson and Chambliss to reconsider this judicial nomination.”
Boggs was grilled by Democratic senators in a confirmation hearing last June and couldn’t recover, with Sen. Patrick Leahy confirming that the Georgia judge did not have the votes to get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and his path to the federal bench was blocked, until now.