Leadership Conference Has “Serious Concerns” Regarding Obama’s Michael Boggs Appointment. On the eve of what could be a lively confirmation hearing featuring two controversial nominees to the federal bench, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights has weighed in.
A controversial nomination by President Obama, that of Michael Boggs to a lifetime appointment as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, will be featured on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning. Boggs has been targeted by several gay and women’s rights groups and, back in December, several Black civil rights leaders, for his vote in support of the Confederate flag emblem remaining on the Georgia state flag and his stances against gay marriage. Today’s letter by the Leadership Conference is the only public reaction by a civil rights group since December 23, 2013.
In the letter entitled The Confirmation of Michael P. Boggs Raises Serious Concerns for the Civil and Human Rights Community, and addressed “Dear Senators,” a portion of the letter states the following:
“Michael P. Boggs was in the Georgia Legislature between 2001–2004, when one of the most contentious civil rights battles in recent history occurred.. After decades of unsuccessful attempts, the Legislature finally decided to remove the Confederate battle symbol from its flag, which it had adopted in 1956 as a sign of resistance to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorialized at the time: “The shame of having a symbol of white supremacy on our state flag—and the insult it delivers to black Georgians—is magnified because that symbol was placed on the flag not despite its racist connotation, but because of it.” Boggs voted against repeal of the Confederate flag several times, and even after it was banished, he supported legislation that could allow it to fly again.”
The letter, authored by the Leadership Conference President Wade Henderson and Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin, also gave a slap to comments made by a White House Spokesman last week who argued that none of the critiques of Boggs had to do with any actual cases on civil rights.
“Mr. Boggs should be asked what the Confederate battle flag symbolizes to him and to African Americans and why he believes that flag should have continued to fly over Georgia nearly 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, the letter continues.
“It is not sufficient to say that his record as a judge does not raise concerns about civil rights. As a state court judge in Georgia, Michael P. Boggs has had little opportunity to develop a record on civil rights, largely due to weak or nonexistent state civil rights laws.
“In stark contrast, as a federal district court judge in Atlanta, Boggs would be called upon to decide a host of civil rights issues, involving voting rights, employment discrimination, fair housing, public accommodations, and school desegregation,” the letter states as if to answer an assertion made last week by White House spokesman Eric Schultz that Boggs’ lack of a civil rights record meant there wasn’t anything to critique.
The letter by the Leadership Conference is one of the only on-the-record reactions in opposition by any civil rights group since January to Boggs’ nomination to a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. A second nominee, Mark Cohen, was the lead attorney in support of Georgia’s voter ID law.