Updated 2:38 p.m. | Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said Monday he opposes the confirmation of Michael P. Boggs to become a federal judge, jeopardizing the nomination in the Senate.
Boggs, who has been a state judge for the last 10 years, has come under fire for votes as a Georgia legislator between 2001 and 2004, including a vote keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, another to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a vote for a public registry of abortion doctors.
Here's Lewis' statement:
WASHINGTON — "I have fought long and hard and even put my life on the line for the cause of equal rights and social justice. My commitment to these ideals has never changed, and my record is solid and unwavering. I take a back-seat to no one and have been at the forefront for decades in defense of the right to marry, a women's right to choose, and the imperative of non-violence as a means of dissent. I have worked tirelessly to rid Georgia, the South, and this nation from the stain of racial discrimination in any form, including the display of Confederate emblems in the Georgia state flag. I am not about to change that position now. "I have tried to refrain from making public statements out of respect for my colleagues and the Senate process. I believe it is important to allow each candidate to be evaluated according to his or her own merits and to allow the Senate judicial nomination process to take its course. This willingness to permit due process is all that I have indicated in any conversation I may have had with my colleagues. I did not at any time indicate my support for the Boggs nomination or say that he had the backing of the African American community in Georgia. "Based on the evidence revealed during this hearing, I do not support the confirmation of Michael Boggs to 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. The testimony suggests Boggs may allow his personal political leanings to influence his impartiality on the bench. I do not have a vote in the Senate, but if I did I would vote against the confirmation of Michael Boggs."Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., had lashed out at Lewis following comments from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., indicating that Lewis backs a deal with Georgia’s two GOP senators that would confirm embattled judicial nominee Michael P. Boggs.
.@nielslesniewski @jbendery @SenFeinstein if this is true, then Rep Lewis is a turncoat who has betrayed African Americans, women and gays
— David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 18, 2014
In Dec I joined Revs CT Vivian, Joe Lowery at a press conf opposing #Boggs - I have not changed my views like a turncoat @AdvoForAction — David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 18, 2014Advocacy for Action, an interest group focused on diversity on the bench, tweeted back at Scott seeking to assure him that no one had changed positions. In December Lewis, Scott and other civil rights activists appeared at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the onetime congregation of Martin Luther King Jr. to denounce a deal between the White House and the state's GOP senators that would confirm Boggs' nomination.
@SenFeinstein @repjohnlewis - at Ebenezer, every black leader in ATLANTA stood up and opposed #Boggs NO ONE has changed their position. — Advocacy For Action (@AdvoForAction) May 19, 2014Scott’s comments came after Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Lewis, the Georgia Democratic congressman and civil rights leader, thought a deal between the White House and Georgia’s GOP senators to fill seven judicial vacancies in the state was “a good ticket.”
Feinstein, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering the Boggs nomination, said she had recently spoken to Lewis about the matter, but she still wants to do more “due diligence” before she decides how to vote.
Lewis carries a lot of influence on civil right issues and both Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said last week that they intended to consult with Lewis. Reid has been among the most critical of Boggs, but he has deferred questions on whether he would allow a floor vote.
The nomination has drawn the ire of interest groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America.
At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Boggs disavowed his state legislature votes on the Confederate flag and on a proposal to publicly name abortion doctors. He also sought to assure senators that he would follow Supreme Court precedent on gay marriage and all other issues.