WASHINGTON -- One of President Barack Obama's most controversial judicial nominees has apologized to the Senate Judiciary Committee for omitting details from his background paperwork, and has submitted new information about his time as a Georgia state legislator -- a period under intense scrutiny from progressive groups.
In an April 10 letter that surfaced Monday, Michael Boggs, a nominee for a U.S. district court judgeship in Georgia, told Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that he left out details in his January questionnaire to the committee that he didn't think were necessary or that weren't readily available. Now, Boggs said, he has "located and exhausted new resources" to provide senators with more information about his background.
The 26-page addendum lists bills that Boggs sponsored, and votes he took while serving in the Georgia House from 2000 to 2004. It also cites speeches he'd given. While it's not unusual for a nominee to provide supplemental materials to the committee, it's notable that Boggs provided, in his original paperwork, a lengthy description of the kinds of bills he sponsored as a state legislator but left out contentious legislation on abortion, gay marriage and religious freedom, which appear in his addendum.
Among the bills that Boggs sponsored, but didn't mention in his original paperwork: A constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, legislation to feature the Ten Commandments in all of Georgia's county courthouses, and multiple bills related to abortion, including one that would create "Choose Life" license plates and another that would impose tougher restrictions on minors seeking abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.
"In 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 also had served as state legislators, and I would like to apologize for not including this information," Boggs wrote.
A committee aide said Boggs submitted the new materials in response to follow-up questions from committee staff.
Progressive groups have fumed at the president for nominating Boggs. NARAL Pro-Choice America has even launched a campaign to sink his vote. Boggs is part of an all-or-nothing package of six judicial nominees that Obama agreed to last summer with Georgia's Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. The White House has maintained that the tradeoff for Boggs is that Democratic-backed nominees in the deal will finally advance after years of going nowhere.
Chambliss and Isakson turned in their so-called blue slips to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, which means Boggs and the other Georgia nominees in the package are cleared for a confirmation hearing. Leahy has yet to schedule a hearing.