Special to SEGAZINE
Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, President Obama’s controversial pick for a federal district court seat, has apologized to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for omitting information about his time as a state legislator from his Senate questionnaire.
Civil rights, abortion rights and progressive organizations are campaigning against Boggs’ nomination, citing bills and resolutions Boggs supported while representing Waycross for two terms in the state House of Representatives. Boggs failed to mention legislation in his original Senate questionnaire that reflected his conservative stances on the hot-button issues of abortion, same-sex marriage, and religion.. Among the issues Boggs omitted from his questionnaire were: a resolution he introduced in the House in 2004 calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage; a bill to place the Ten Commandments in Georgia’s 159 county courthouses; bills to further restrict abortions; and his vote to retain the Confederate battle emblem on Georgia’s old state flag.
In an April 10 letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Ranking Member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Boggs wrote: “In several instances in my original questionnaire, I omitted detail that I did not believe was responsive, based on the public questionnaires of other judicial nominees who also had served as state legislators, and I would like to apologize for not including this information.”
Boggs explained that most of the material he omitted initially but included in his 26-page addendum “was not readily available” and that he had “located and exhausted new resources” in order to provide the committee with the additional information.
The appellate judge said that in his original questionnaire, he had provided “a summary description” of his speeches and talks while a Georgia legislator but that any written calendars memorializing the dates of his speeches from the well of the House would have been discarded either when he disposed of a laptop “several years ago after it stopped working” or in 2012, seven years after he was appointed as a Superior Court judge in the Waycross Circuit.
Boggs also said that although he “made a good faith effort to search available records for media coverage” of his speeches, “three of the local newspapers that covered my legislative district do not maintain electronic or searchable editions (even internally) for the time period in which I served as a state representative.” A fourth local paper, he said, “does not maintain electronic editions searchable by the public for the time period in which I served as a state representative” and are “only available in bound volumes and on microfiche.”
Other bills that Boggs sponsored but did not list in the initial questionnaire response included one establishing a “pro-life” license plate that would have generated funds for crisis pregnancy centers that didn’t provide abortion counseling or abortion-related procedures and a bill that would have required minors to seek permission of a parent or guardian before they could obtain an abortion, even in cases of incest and rape.
Included in Boggs’ April 10 letter is his first reference to a speech he made on the floor of the House of Representatives on Feb. 26, 2004, introducing a state Senate bill that sought passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages in Georgia—one that eventually passed. Boggs said his comments “were made extemporaneously” and he retained no notes but included video coverage of the debate, which he said he secured from Georgia Public Television.
In that speech, which the Daily Report reported in a February story about Boggs, the lawmaker said the amendment was “premised on good conservative Christian values” and intended to guard against rulings by “activist judges” who might overturn a state law that already barred gay marriage.
Boggs also included in his questionnaire addendum a list of bills and resolutions he sponsored or cosponsored, including a bill supporting display of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in government buildings and public schools; and a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to affirm the U.S. as a Judeo-Christian nation.