Opposition to President Obama's federal district court nominee Michael Boggs that began as hints from a few Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and was bolstered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's objections Wednesday blossomed into a complete rout Thursday when the other three Senate Democratic leaders made clear they also object.
Jennifer Bendery reported at the Huffington Post that the secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference, Patty Murray of Washington; Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois; and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, aren't on board with the nomination.
Apparently, they believe that in the long run they should worry more about fall-out from civil rights and pro-choice groups and everything that Democrats are supposed to stand for than about pissing off the president.
Boggs, a conservative Georgia Democrat who sits on the state's court of appeals, ran into trouble immediately at the hearing Tuesday, with one Democrat after another quietly calling into question his opposition to marriage equality and abortion as well as his support for keeping the Confederate battle flag a part of the Georgia state flag when he was a state legislator in 2001-2003. The battle flag was added in 1956 specifically to indicate lawmakers' objections to federal desegregation policies.
Schumer said he has "significant doubts" about the nominee, Durbin said, "His answers really were not very good," and Murray "is not inclined to support this nomination," according to her office.
Add the doubts shown at the Judiciary Committee hearing by Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Al Franken of Minnesota and Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut. It would take solid support from Senate Republicans, an unlikely occurrence, and the votes of several conservative Democrats, for Boggs's nomination to clear the Senate.
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Boggs was nominated by President Obama as part of a deal that gets two of his circuit court picks past the state's two Republican senators. Bendery writes:
Top Democrats may be piling up the opposition to Boggs, but the White House is standing by its nominee, given that Boggs is part of an all-or-nothing package of judicial nominees to which the president agreed with Georgia's Republican senators. The White House maintains it had to compromise on Boggs to get other nominees backed by Democrats into the package. And compromise it did: Four of the seven nominees are GOP picks, and only two are black, despite the state's large black population. The tradeoff, the administration argues, is that long-empty seats can get filled.
But that deal doesn't apply to anyone else in the Senate, and some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are signaling that they'll vote against Boggs even making it out of the committee. The Judiciary panel isn't likely to vote for at least a few weeks.
Reid will not commit to a floor vote if the committee fails to recommend Boggs for the federal bench. "We'll see," he said.
If the nomination collapses, one other Georgia Democrat will be extremely happy. That's Rep. David Scott, the moderate who represents the Atlanta suburbs and who in February made clear he objected to Obama's "disrespect" in nominating Boggs and another social conservative, Mark Cohen:
"Let us be frank here. I'm proud of this first black president. I love this first black president," said Scott, who is black. "But when you are hurt by the one you love, there's no greater pain than that."
A vote on Boggs and other nominees is not expected for weeks.