Representatives of several civil rights organizations on Friday called on the White House to remove state Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs from a list of expected nominees to the federal bench in Georgia. Their objection to Boggs stems from his vote in 2001 as a state legislator from Waycross to retain Georgia’s old state flag, which was embedded with the Confederate battle emblem.
At a news conference in front of the Richard Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta, State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, called on President Obama to drop Boggs from consideration for a federal judgeship in Atlanta.
“Michael Boggs, when he was a state legislator, voted against changing the Georgia flag with the Confederate emblem on it,” Fort said. “He voted for the Confederate flag…. We are very concerned that a judge, while a legislator, in the 21st century, voted for the Confederate flag. It is reasonable for the public to be concerned about whether he is committed to fairness…. We think it is not right for this man to sit on the federal bench.”
Boggs could not be reached for comment. Nominees for federal judgeships usually avoid public comment under protocols set by the White House and Congress.
Fort and other speakers at the news conference declined to name anyone who they think should be considered as Boggs’ replacement on the list.
Speakers at Friday’s news conference included State Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson; Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda; Mary Ross, interim executive director of the NAACP Atlanta branch; attorney Francys Johnson, state president of the NAACP of Georgia; and Amanda Hill-Attkisson, program director of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions. They criticized the lack of transparency in a largely secret selection process that they say has shut out minorities while allowing the state’s Republican U.S. senators too much latitude to name candidates who would reflect a judicial philosophy far more conservative than President Obama’s.
They criticized the list of five recommended nominees and one current nominee – all of whom have been submitted to the White House with the approval of U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson – for including only one African-American.