Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights-era icon, announced his opposition Monday to President Barack Obama’s nomination of a Georgia state judge to the federal bench.
Lewis, D-Ga., said he can’t support Obama’s choice of Michael Boggs to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia because ‘His record is in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career.’
Boggs compiled a conservative record during his tenure in Georgia’s state legislature from 2000 to 2004, including votes to keep the Confederate insignia on the state flag and supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He’s currently a judge on Georgia’s Court of Appeals.
‘I have worked tirelessly to rid Georgia, the South, and this nation from the stain of racial discrimination in any form, including the display of Confederate emblem
in the Georgia state flag," said Lewis, who was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s and is the only living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. ‘I am not about to change that position now.’
He added: ‘I do not have a vote in the Senate, but if I did I would vote against the confirmation of Michael Boggs.’
It’s the Senate’s job to confirm judicial nominations. But Lewis’s voice carries weight in the House of Representatives and the Senate on civil rights matters. His opposition may further jeopardize Boggs’s nomination, which was already teetering after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week that he ‘can’t vote’ to confirm him.
‘This is a lifetime appointment,’ Reid told BuzzFeed last week. ‘He’s said some things and made some decisions I think are not very good.’
Lewis said he weighed in on Boggs’s nomination reluctantly. But he felt compelled to speak out after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicated on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ said that Lewis thought that a deal between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators to fill court vacancies that resulted in Boggs’s nomination was a ‘good ticket.’
Feinstein’s comments angered some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., took the rare step of publically admonishing Lewis, based on what she said in her television interview.
Scott took to Twitter Sunday and wrote ‘if this is true, then Rep Lewis is a turncoat who has betrayed African Americans, women and gays.’
Lewis said Monday that ‘I did not at any time indicate my support for the Boggs nomination or say that he had the backing of the African American community in Georgia.’
‘I have tried to refrain from making public statements out of respect for my colleagues and the Senate process,’ Lewis said. ‘I believe it is important to allow each candidate to be evaluated according to his or her merits and to allow the Senate judicial process to take its course.’