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John Lewis opposes Michael Boggs for federal court

By Gabrielle Levy   |   May 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he opposes President Obama's nomination of Michael Boggs to serve on the federal court in Georgia, endangering a delicate deal to fill seven vacancies on the state 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," Lewis said in a statement Monday. "The testimony suggests Boggs may allow his personal political leanings to influence his impartiality on the bench."

Boggs, who served as a state senator before becoming a state judge, has supported keeping the Confederate symbol on the Georgia state flag, the creation of a "Choose Life" license plate that helped fund an anti-abortion group and a measure requiring parents to go with their minor daughters to abortion clinics, while opposing same-sex marriage.

His nomination came as part of a deal between the White House and Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Republicans, to fill seven empty seats on the state bench.

Lewis' disapproval follows a similar statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said last week he planned to vote against Boggs' confirmation.

While as a member of the House of Representatives, Lewis won't vote on Boggs' confirmation himself, he is highly influential on civil rights issues. Both Reid, as well as Majority Whip Dick Durbin, have both said they planned to consult with Lewis.

Boggs disavowed his state legislature votes on both the Confederate flag and on a measure that would publicly name abortion doctors at a Judiciary hearing last week, and promised to follow Supreme Court precedent on civil rights issues.

Here's Lewis's full statement:

"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."

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