WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that he will oppose President Barack Obama's beleaguered nominee Michael Boggs for a federal judgeship if he comes up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"After careful consideration of Judge Michael Boggs, I have decided to vote against his nomination to be a federal judge," Franken told The Huffington Post. "His record on civil rights, women's health, and LGBT equality is regrettable, and I was not satisfied with the answers he gave during his confirmation hearing."
Franken joins Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) among members of the committee publicly saying they'll vote against Boggs. Plenty of Democrats on the panel have raised concerns with his nomination, but haven't yet said how they'll vote.
Boggs, who is up for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, has come under fire for his socially conservative record during his time as a Georgia state legislator from 2000 to 2004. Among other things, he voted to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and to impose tighter restrictions on access to abortion.
The committee has yet to schedule a vote on Boggs. Obama has weathered months of criticism from progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers over his nomination. Boggs is part of an all-or-nothing package of seven judicial nominees agreed to by the White House and Georgia's two Republican senators. Their agreement was only to get those nominees a hearing, though, which has already happened, so each nominee in the package is free to move forward independently now. It's unclear whether Boggs has enough votes to pass.
During Boggs' confirmation hearing last month, Franken pressed him to explain his vote in 2001 for a measure that would have required doctors who perform abortions to post their profiles online, along with the number of abortions they performed. Boggs said he didn't realize at the time the risks the amendment posed for doctors, telling the committee he'd never heard of health clinics being attacked or doctors being killed by radical anti-abortion protesters. Franken, among others, was perplexed by his response.
"You were a state legislator at the time and you weren't aware of any of the public safety issues that were involved around this whole issue?" Franken asked. "Doctors were murdered for this, and yet you were not aware of that at all?"
"I wasn't," Boggs said. "That was probably attributable to the fact that this was a floor amendment to a bill ... and not something that I had an opportunity to study."
"Thirty-seven years old. A state legislator. Were not aware of anything," Franken replied. "Okay."
Boggs offered a new explanation to senators this week: He said he was aware of abortion providers being murdered in the early 2000s, but he just didn't link those instances with the amendment he voted for.