Michael Boggs

A Political Win for the Very Idea of Justice

Contemplation of Justice

The question of Michael Boggs’ nomination to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Virginia has been something of a curious political football for President Obama; while Republicans have fought tooth and nail to oppose judicial nominees, it was Democrats and liberals who opposed Boggs’ nomination. With a nominee facing criticism of being overly political from his bench and supporting bigoted causes (e.g., racism, misogyny, homophobia), one might wonder why this president would even bother with such a nomination in the first place. And the answer, of course, is the arcane “blue slip” process, by which a president does not nominate a federal judge without the agreement of U.S. Senators from the state where that judge will preside.

Michael Boggs became the nominee because that is who Georgia Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chamblis wanted on the bench.

Democrats have succeeded in blocking the nomination. Jennifer Bendery brings the update for Huffington Post:

Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson (R) and Saxby Chambliss (R) said late Tuesday night that President Barack Obama won’t renominate Boggs next year for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The news is a major victory for progressives who have fought Boggs’ nomination all year.

“It is with regret that we announce that the President will not re-nominate Judge Michael Boggs to the United States District Court for a third time. We were informed of the President’s decision by Denis McDonough, the President’s chief of staff, prior to Thanksgiving. We regret the President’s decision, as we have supported Judge Boggs throughout this process and remain steadfast in our support,” the senators said in a statement.

They continued, “Throughout the process, Judge Boggs has exhibited enormous restraint and the temperament expected of a jurist. These traits will serve him well for the opportunities we are confident the future holds for Judge Boggs. We wish him the best and thank him for his service to the people of Georgia.”

A White House spokesman confirmed that Obama won’t renominate Boggs, but offered no additional comment.

Those who follow American politics closely already know why progressive and liberal groups are celebrating. For everyone else, it is simply enough to bear in mind that the President Obama held to the tradition and nominated the judge recommended by the senators, and that there is a difference between the Senate not being able to scrape up enough votes to confirm a nominee with a record of bigotry, to the one, and a U.S. Senator deciding to pull his blue slip because a judge happens to be gay. In the history of advice and consent, the loss of Boggs’ nomination is much more according to what we expect of the process. Which, in turn, is much different from whatever it is Republicans think they are doing.


Bendery, Jennifer. “It’s Official: Obama Won’t Renominate Michael Boggs”. The Huffington Post. 31 December 2014.

Alvarez, Lizette. “Rubio Withdraws Support for Gay Black Judge’s Nomination to the Federal Bench”. The New York Times. 23 September 2013.