End of the Road for Michael Boggs Nomination?
Time is running out for Michael P. Boggs, whose nomination by President Barack Obama to the district court bench in Georgia roiled Democrats and raised new questions about the longstanding Senate practice of giving senators a veto over court picks in their home states.
Georgia Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson said Tuesday they remain hopeful that the controversial judicial nomineewill get confirmed before the end of the congressional session.
“We’ve still got days left in the session,” Chambliss said.
“We’ll just have to see,” Isakson said. The pair negotiated the Boggs pick as part of a deal with the White House to fill seven judicial openings in the state, including two circuit court posts.
The Senate Tuesday evening voted to confirm three of those judges, bringing the total to six of the package to get confirmed. Boggs is the only remaining nominee yet to be confirmed.
“Next year the president could re-nominate him if he so chooses, which I would support him doing; we’d have a Republican Judiciary Committee too,” Isakson said. “I’ve done everything I have control of.”
But Boggs’ nomination appears dead for now. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., reiterated that the nomination doesn’t have to votes to get out of committee and be sent to the Senate floor.
And, for that reason, it isn’t likely to end up in a year-end package of nominations being put together by Senate leaders and the White House.
“I would be very surprised if that happened,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Whitehouse, who worked as a lawyer for much of his career and was picked by President Bill Clinton in 1994 to be U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, said he had sympathy for Boggs’ plight.
“There was obviously some controversy. I think it was probably a relief to a lot of people” thathe won’t likely be confirmed, Whitehouse said. “But it is always a bit sad when somebody goes through that whole process and isn’t successful.”
Whitehouse declined to say whether he would have voted for Boggs either in committee or on the floor. He previously had indicated to CQ Roll Call he would honor the wishes of the Georgia senators, before backtracking .
Nominated in December 2013, Boggs came under fire by civil rights groups and Georgia Democrats for votes he cast as a Georgia legislator between 2001 and 2004, including a vote to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, one to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a vote to restrict access to abortion.
The accord highlighted what’s known as the “blue slip” process, a Senate tradition requiring both senators to approve of a judicial nominee before the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing.
Without Isakson’s and Chambliss’ blessing, the judicial openings in Georgia would simply go vacant — despite last year’s use of the “nuclear option” eliminating filibusters of most nominations. So the White House cut a deal.
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