What do we know about Michael Boggs? We know that the ultra-conservative former legislator and current judge has been appointed by President Obama for a federal district court bench in Georgia. We know that this is part of a compromise deal Obama made with Georgia senators in order to lift blocks for other appointments. We probably also know that Boggs sponsored several bills that made him a target for progressives and civil rights groups and even Senator Harry Reid. Bills he sponsored and voted for but neglected to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee were to curtail reproductive rights, promote the Confederacy, further ostracize LGBTQ people, and ignore the separation of church and state. But Boggs’ nomination shouldn’t just be opposed by progressives but across the board by liberals, moderates and conservatives. His legacy is dangerous to the very seat of a federal judge.
Here are five reasons Michael Boggs should not be appointed by anybody to any federal judicial bench:
- Unprofessional dishonesty:
Coming before the Senate Judiciary Committee is being interviewed for one of the most important jobs in the country. Appointees need to be fully honest about all aspects of their past, particularly elements that may lean into judicial decisions while on the bench. So when one fails to mention some really, really controversial aspects – whether they come from conservative or liberal positions – that nominee is suspect. Boggs’ dishonesty in this situation is the kind of stuff people get fired for. And this isn’t just leaving irrelevant information off the resume. His voting and sponsoring history over these issues reflect core values that don’t just betray fellow Democrats (recall that Boggs was actually a Democrat), but the non-partisan seat of a federal judge whose job is to apply the constitution.
- He doesn’t understand the constitution:
Even TV judges should have a rudimentary understanding of the US Constitution. To sponsor a bill that would put a copy of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse in Georgia is to show that one doesn’t understand the law and a couple of things primarily about his understanding of the constitution. The first being that the constitution shouldn’t be viewed as the primal law of the land. The second that he doesn’t believe or understand the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Additionally, Boggs voted to keep the Confederate battle flag in his state’s official flag. Not only is this hurtful to black Georgians and others trying to escape the Confederate legacy, but it underscores the basis of the constitution by supporting a failed overthrow of the US government.
- Reckless ignorance:
Michael Boggs sponsored two anti-choice bills that demonstrate a high level of not just ignorance but a lack of concern for the safety of abortion seekers and abortion providers. One bill was to make all minors report to their parents about their abortions, regardless if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest. While most abortion-seeking youth report their actions to their parents, many do not due to fears of abuse and control from their own family. Such laws place teenage girls in danger in their own homes. Secondly, and more shockingly, Boggs supported a bill that would list the names of abortion providers and how many each one performed. When Sen. Al Franken questioned him about this and his present reticence about it, Boggs replied he wasn’t aware of the risks to providers, nor of the attempts (successful and otherwise) on their lives. That’s not “pro-life”; that’s some wanton and dangerous ignorance.
Boggs said that a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage “premised on good conservative Christian values.” Uh. No. They’re values, but they’re not good. Add the anti-abortion votes (which are almost completely religious in nature) and the Ten Commandment postings, put them in the oven for two hours and we got us some God Law. Theocracy is dangerous whether from an Islamic state or a Christian one. Placing copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses says that ancient scriptures have interpretive precedence over all other laws, and suggests that the main law that the US and its citizens should follow starts with “You shall honor the Lord your God.” And since the US is a pluralist and secular nation, you’d think a judge would understand that is un-American.
- Though he says he’s against “activist judges,” his legislative history shows him to be an activist:
Activism is actually a good thing in many cases – as long as it is activism for marginalized people and groups. But that’s not what Michael Boggs is. With one exception, when asked about his current positions on the bills he sponsored and signed, he ambiguously answered his views “may or may not have changed.” Which gives a big hint that the views haven’t changed and that they will heavily influence his judicial decisions. I thought conservatives didn’t like activist judges?
Let your senators know – this one isn’t good for us.
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