The nomination for a seat on the district court bench in Georgia "will go down in history as one of the worst acts of this president," said the chief foe of Boggs, Rep. David Scott, a moderate Democrat who represents the Atlanta suburbs.
Nominating Boggs, who has the backing of Georgia's two Republican U.S. senators, was part of a deal President Obama made to keep them from using the "blue slip" process to block any nominations to the more important circuit court bench.
Although the hearing, chaired by Democratic Sen. Dick Blumenthal, never got heated in its questioning of Boggs, the concerns of several Democrats on the committee were made obvious from the beginning. Both Al Franken of Minnesota and Dianne Feinstein of California hinted without ever saying outright that they had issues with the nominee's integrity.
Given the firebombing of clinics and the assassinations of abortion doctors, they, and others on the committee, including Blumenthal, found it hard to believe that Boggs could have been unaware of the risk involved in an amendment to a state law that would have required publishing the names of abortion providers. Yet, that is what he repeatedly claimed during the hearing. He also said repeatedly that he regretted his vote and now believes the amendment would have increased the risk to doctors.
Blumenthal said, "I find, frankly, incredible the idea that you would not understand that this would put doctors at risk."
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When Boggs had met with Franken, the senator said, the nominee told him that he had voted for the amendment because his constituents wanted a referendum. But, Franken pointed out, Boggs had voted twice to keep the battle flag as part of the official state flag, and the first time a referendum wasn't at issue. The question that Franken edged up to but didn't ask: Were you lying about that?
As did other senators, Feinstein called into question whether Boggs could put aside his personal views in making rulings from the bench, particularly in matters of reproductive rights and marriage equality. He said he could put aside those personal views, and that this was proved by the 14,000 decisions he had made as a trial judge and hundreds as a state appellate court judge. He said he was fully on board with stare decisis, the legal doctrine of adherence to court rulings made in previous cases.
Feinstein said she hoped he would follow stare decisis, but implied she had been burned by a couple of Supreme Court nominees who made the same assertions at their nomination hearings but did not behave that way once they got on the court. Feinstein concluded, saying: "I want you to know that for my vote I have to have certainty. I don’t know quite how to get it in view of this record." Boggs again reiterated what he said was his record of sticking to precedent in his previous rulings.
And he did so again when Amy Klobuchar, the other Democratic senator from Minnesota, asked whether he considered Griswold v. Connecticut settled law. That 49-year-old ruling invalidated on the grounds of privacy a state law barring married couples from obtaining contraceptives. Some anti-abortion fanatics would like to see Griswold overturned. Boggs said he did consider it and Roe v. Wade settled.