Obama Judicial Nominee’s Record on Civil Rights Worse Than Originally Disclosed

New information released by NARAL Pro-Choice America and disclosed by Judge Michael Boggs himself details a career of opposition to civil and reproductive rights. Boggs was nominated by President Obama to be a federal district judge in Georgia.

New information released by NARAL Pro-Choice America and disclosed by Judge Michael Boggs himself details a career of opposition to civil and reproductive rights. Georgia Policy / YouTube

Read more of our coverage on controversial judicial nominee Michael Boggs here.

The national reproductive rights advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice America is ramping up its campaign against Judge Michael Boggs, a nominee to be a federal district judge in Georgia. The campaign comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider a new round of judicial appointments and as further questions surface about Boggs’ record on civil rights.

Boggs currently sits on the Georgia Court of Appeals and is a former state legislator with a long history of opposition to reproductive and civil rights. As a legislator, he co-sponsored bills that would have made it harder for young women to get abortions, and that would have funded anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers. Boggs also voted to amend the Georgia constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and to preserve the symbol of the Confederate flag in the state flag of Georgia.

Boggs’ nomination was part of a deal struck in 2013 with Senate Republicans on judicial nominations. According to reports, the Obama administration agreed to appoint three nominees, pre-approved by Georgia Republican senators, to the federal district court of Georgia. In exchange, Republicans agreed to end their filibuster of the nomination of Jill Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Progressive groups oppose Boggs’ nomination, citing much of his record as a state lawmaker and the fact that conservatives forced his nomination as part of a deal to confirm Judge Pryor as evidence that Boggs isn’t qualified for the federal bench. But then reports surfaced that Boggs had to amend his application because he left out details about his time as a state lawmaker. The items that Boggs failed to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee include his sponsorship of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, legislation mandating that county courthouses feature the Ten Commandments, and a bill that would have created “Choose Life” license plates to fund crisis pregnancy centers in the state. In an April 10 letter to the judiciary committee, Boggs apologized for the omission, stating, “[I]n several instances in my original questionnaire, I omitted detail that I did not believe was responsive, based on the public questionnaires of other judicial nominees who had also served as state legislators.”

In addition to these omissions to the Senate Judiciary Committee, NARAL has uncovered information that questions Boggs’ fitness to serve on the federal bench. The new findings show that while serving in the state legislature Boggs voted in favor of an anti-choice amendment that would have required Internet-accessible profiles of doctors to include the number of abortion procedures the doctor had provided in the previous ten years. The Democratic leader of the state house at the time warned that the effects of such a measure could put physicians at risk. Boggs also voted in favor of an amendment that would create a committee composed of state politicians and the executive director of Georgia Right to Life to study the effects of “post-abortion syndrome.” Boggs also took an extreme position with regard to fetal “personhood,” voting twice in favor of amending a bill on criminal penalties for child abuse to define children as “both born and unborn.” The effect of this amendment would lay the groundwork to create fetal “personhood” rights and set the stage for prosecuting women for poor pregnancy outcomes, as well as re-criminalizing abortion.

In an email campaign to supporters, NARAL is asking its members to call their senators and demand that they question Boggs about his anti-choice record in Georgia. “New information has come to light that provides further evidence as to why Michael Boggs has no business being on the federal bench,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement. “Our judicial branch is too important to risk appointing someone whose record and stated values are out of line with our nation’s commitment to women’s fundamental rights. The Senate Judiciary Committee should aggressively question the nominee about his anti-choice record or risk further eroding the constitutional rights that so many Americans have fought to realize.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has a nominations hearing scheduled for May 13, but so far no nominees have been named on the hearing agenda. Both Georgia senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, turned in their so-called blue slips to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, which means Boggs and the other nominees in his deal are cleared for consideration, and that could happen as early as Tuesday.