WASHINGTON -- As he heads into his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Georgia judicial nominee Michael Boggs faces a fresh wave of opposition from Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups determined to sink his nomination over votes he took as a state legislator against gay rights, civil rights and abortion rights.
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) on Monday called it "despicable" that President Barack Obama supports Boggs for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Among other things, Boggs has come under fire for past votes as a Georgia legislator to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and to restrict access to abortion.
"Michael Boggs ... voted to keep the Confederate battle flag, the most vicious symbol of racism and oppression and white supremacy that is known to man today," Scott said on the syndicated radio program "Tom Joyner Morning Show." "To have this being done by the first African-American president is shameful, it is painful and it hurts deep."
Boggs will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee with six other Georgia judicial nominees who are part of an all-or-nothing package the president agreed to last year with Georgia's Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. The White House has maintained it had to compromise on Boggs to get other Democrat-backed nominees into the package. And compromise it did: Four of the seven nominees are GOP picks, and two are black in a state with a large black population. The tradeoff is that long-empty court seats would be filled.
"We have been trying to fill these judicial vacancies for more than three years, but two of the president's nominees were blocked for nearly 11 months and returned at the end of 2011," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. "Our choice is clear: do we work with Republican senators to find a compromise or should we leave the seats vacant?"
But key factions of Obama's base, including black members of Congress like Scott, say the president conceded too much by taking Boggs.
"I'm telling you, there's something rotten in this cotton," Scott said during the interview. "It's stinking and it's a foul odor that's coming out of that Senate."
Fellow Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson described Boggs as "a particularly egregious pick" and said he's lobbying Senate Democrats to reject the confirmation.
"I think the president was given bad advice, and I suppose he’s still proceeding on that bad advice," Johnson said in a Monday statement. "It's not good for the president’s legacy in Georgia insofar as this particular judicial appointment is concerned."
Progressive groups, meanwhile, released a new batch of statements and letters reiterating complaints with Boggs.
The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, published excerpts from a 2004 speech that Boggs gave in the Georgia House in favor of banning same-sex marriage.
"Boggs urged his fellow legislators to vote for the proposition stating that, 'I tell you, and I submit to you, that whether you're a Democrat or whether you're a Republican, whether you’re from a rural area like myself or whether you represent an urban area, we have opportunities seldom in my short tenure in the legislature, to stand up for things that are common-sensical, things that are premised on good conservative Christian values, and in this instance in particular, to support the sanctity of marriage,'" reads a Monday post on Human Rights Campaign's website.
"Through this clear and unapologetic record Boggs has signaled his hostility towards issues of equality in his home state as an elected official," reads the post. "If confirmed, Boggs' could entrench these destructive, anti-equality values on the federal bench for generations to come."
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest civil rights coalition, sent a letter to senators expressing "serious concerns" with Boggs.
"The Senate Judiciary Committee must carefully scrutinize Michael P. Boggs’ views on race discrimination. Mr. Boggs should be asked what the Confederate battle flag symbolizes to him and to African Americans and why he believes that flag should have continued to fly over Georgia nearly 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education," reads the letter. "His views on all forms of discrimination should be explored."
The National Council of Jewish Women flat-out urged the committee to reject Boggs.
"Judge Boggs' record on reproductive rights, civil rights and LGBT rights is especially troubling in a nominee for a lifetime seat on the federal bench," reads a statement from the group's CEO Nancy Kaufman. "Georgia, and the nation as a whole, deserves a judge with a proven commitment to equal justice and constitutional rights."
NARAL Pro-Choice America has been campaigning against Boggs for months. Ilyse Hogue, the group's president, told The Huffington Post she plans to attend Boggs' hearing and will be live-tweeting throughout.
The committee will kick off its Tuesday hearing at 9:30 a.m.