Liberal groups blast Obama judicial pick

A coalition of 27 reproductive, civil and gay rights groups is urging Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose one of President Obama’s nominations to a federal court in Georgia.

In a letter on Thursday, the groups ask the lawmakers to oppose the nomination of Michael Boggs, whom Obama nominated to the federal bench in December.

“We write to voice serious concern about the nomination of Michael Boggs to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject this nomination,” the letter says.

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NARAL Pro-Choice America, a major abortion-rights group, spearheaded the letter after starting an online campaign against Boggs’s nomination last week.

The group rounded up others to join its campaign and sign the letter, including progressive group MoveOn.org Civic Action and Human Rights Campaign, the largest group promoting gay rights.

Boggs’s record, the groups argue, shows he “lacks a demonstrated commitment to fairness and equal justice with respect to issues of reproductive freedom, civil rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.”

As a state legislator in Georgia, the groups say Boggs co-sponsored a measure that would have channeled funds from a license-plate program to anti-abortion groups. They are also critical of a vote to keep the state’s 1956 state flag, which displays a Confederate battle emblem, and support for an amendment that would prohibit marriage for same-sex couples in his state.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday said he hadn't seen the statements from the liberal groups, and would not say whether civil rights leaders had raised the issue during a meeting with the president on Tuesday.

"I know they had a conversation about some of the ideas related to criminal justice reform that the president and the attorney general have both discussed. But in terms of specifics, I can't go beyond that in terms of whether or not a specific judicial nominee came up," Earnest said.

Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill have blasted Obama over Boggs’s nomination and those of other prospective federal judges in Georgia.

Georgia Rep. David Scott (D), for example, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the picks. He asked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to testify before his panel on the nominations.

The letter was sent to Leahy and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Al Franken (Minn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii).

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett earlier this month to express concern over the nominations.

The black lawmakers have been upset over the nomination of Mark Cohen, who defended a voter ID law in court. They also are annoyed Obama nominated only one black judge, Eleanor Ross, who happens to be a Republican.

Letter Opposing Boggs

--This report was updated at 2:05 p.m.