We've been following this story for way too long, since the "West Wing-like deal" rumors started swirling back in September.
With as many as four vacancies to fill on the Eleventh Circuit bench (out of twelve seats total), and with his nominee of choice to a three-years-vacant seat, Jill Pryor, blocked by two Georgia Republican senators, President Barack Obama reached across the aisle and forged a bipartisan compromise: two Democratic choices for three Republican choices.
The rumored deal and nominations went through, but confirmation is a whole different issue, and it's not looking good for one of the district court appointees: Judge Michael Boggs of the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Beef With Boggs (In Brief)
We've already talked about the Boggs beef, which mostly focuses on his record in the legislature.
His greatest hits read like a Republican manifesto: restrictions on abortions, pro-life license plates, Ten Commandments in courthouses, asking Congress to affirm that the U.S. is a Judeo-Christian nation, supporting a gay marriage ban amendment (even though a law was already in place), and voting in favor of keeping the Confederate Battle Emblem on his state's flag.
If confirmed, he'd be the perfect example of why you can't rely upon "who nominated him" as a litmus test for ideology.
At this point, it might be more difficult to find anyone who supports Boggs' nomination, other than Georgia's Republican senators -- Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) has led the charge against his president's compromise nominee from the start, first as part of a coalition of diversity proponents who were irked by the slate's lack of diversity -- if the deal goes through, there will be only one African American district court judge in the state.
His letter to Sen. Leahy last year also pointed out Boggs' voting record on the above issues, and asked to testify against his nomination. He is one of a number of liberals opposing the nomination, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has taken a more tepid approach, refusing to commit one way or the other until the Judicial Committee acts on the nomination.
How Did We Get Here?
You'd think, with the death of the filibuster, that President Obama wouldn't have to compromise. But as we've noted before, the blue slip veto has reared its ugly head repeatedly, with Republican senators blocking multiple nominees in Florida and Georgia.
Slate points out that the Blue Slip veto is a historical oddity that isn't even all that historic: it has flip-flopped from advisory to strongly persuasive to a zero blue-slip rule where either of a state's senators can quash a nomination, and back, before the current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) returned to the zero blue-slip rule.
President Obama, with as much as one-third of the Eleventh Circuit bench vacant, and his own party promoting the blue slip veto, didn't have much of a choice outside of a compromise. Whether the three-for-two deal and the Boggs nomination were good ideas, however, is a whole different debate.
- Will Calls for Diversity Halt 11th Cir. Appointments Deal? (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit Blog)
- Robin Rosenberg Gets the Nomination; Gay Judge Passed Over (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit Blog)
- 11th Circuit Gets Starring Role in Private Conflicts Audit (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit Blog)