Senate’s No. 2 Democrat Opposes Controversial Obama Nominee

Michael Boggs is fast losing Democratic support.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (L) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) speak to the media after successfully pushing a bipartisan bill through the U.S. Senate to end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit at the U.S. Capitol October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that they have reached bipartisan deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and end the sixteen day government shutdown. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote.  
National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
May 21, 2014, 12:22 p.m.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin has come out against a con­tro­ver­sial Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ju­di­cial nom­in­ee, sig­nal­ing trouble for the em­battled former state le­gis­lat­or.

Durbin told Na­tion­al Journ­al that he will be vot­ing against the nom­in­a­tion of Mi­chael Boggs to be U.S. Dis­trict Court judge in Geor­gia. Durbin sits on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, which will have to ap­prove of Boggs be­fore his nom­in­a­tion can head to the Sen­ate floor.

Boggs, a former Geor­gia Demo­crat­ic state le­gis­lat­or, faces lib­er­al op­pos­i­tion due to his past vot­ing re­cord and state­ments on is­sues such as abor­tion, same-sex mar­riage, and the Con­fed­er­ate flag. Durbin, who had ques­tioned Boggs dur­ing a com­mit­tee hear­ing last week, had pre­vi­ously said he wanted to speak with civil-rights icon and Rep. John Lewis of Geor­gia be­fore mak­ing up his mind.

Lewis re­leased a state­ment this week say­ing that he doesn’t sup­port Boggs to serve on the fed­er­al bench. “His re­cord is in dir­ect op­pos­i­tion to everything I have stood for dur­ing my ca­reer, and his mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion of that re­cord to the com­mit­tee is even more troub­ling,” Lewis said.

That seemed to seal the deal for Durbin. “I saw [Lewis’s] state­ment. I have not spoken with him per­son­ally. His state­ment was very clear,” Durbin told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “I said to my col­leagues from Geor­gia, and I said pub­licly af­ter­ward, that I have one phone call that was crit­ic­al to my de­cision and that was to John Lewis of Geor­gia. And he was op­posed to Mr. Boggs and I’m go­ing to be vot­ing no for the reas­ons that he ar­tic­u­lated.”

The nom­in­a­tion of Boggs to serve on the fed­er­al bench was part of a com­prom­ise deal, which in­cludes six ju­di­cial nom­in­ees in total, put to­geth­er by the White House and Geor­gia’s two Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors. In ex­change for Boggs, Sens. Johnny Isak­son and Saxby Cham­b­liss agreed to re­lease a two-year hold on a Cir­cuit Court nom­in­ee.

“This is a re­com­mend­a­tion from the two sen­at­ors,” White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said of the Geor­gia sen­at­ors’ choice of Boggs on Tues­day. “It is our view that he is qual­i­fied for this post. His track re­cord as a state tri­al and ap­pel­late court judge demon­strates that he is qual­i­fied for the fed­er­al bench, and we ob­vi­ously sup­port his nom­in­a­tion.”

But a grow­ing chor­us of Demo­crats are de­fy­ing the White House on this nom­in­a­tion; Durbin joins Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id in op­pos­ing it. Re­id hasn’t com­mit­ted to bring­ing the nom­in­a­tion to the floor should it clear the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. But Boggs’s pro­spects could die there — the com­mit­tee makeup of 10 Demo­crats and eight Re­pub­lic­ans means at least two Demo­crats will need to back him in com­mit­tee, along with all Re­pub­lic­ans.

Last week, a num­ber of Demo­crats on that com­mit­tee ex­pressed re­ser­va­tions in sup­port­ing Boggs. But one mem­ber, Sen. Shel­don White­house of Rhode Is­land, has signaled open­ness to sup­port­ing the nom­in­ee in com­mit­tee. “I’m still listen­ing,” White­house said. “I’m a be­liev­er in the im­port­ance of the loc­al sen­at­ors’ views about their home states about dis­trict judges be­ing re­spec­ted, so it would take a pretty ex­cep­tion­al reas­on for me to vi­ol­ate that rule.”

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