Senate puts Boggs on hold as other Ga. judge nominees near vote

U.S. Senate Democrats are putting the nomination of controversial Georgia Judge Michael Boggs on hold as six other nominees from the state could move out of committee as soon as Thursday.

The move officially severs the fate of Boggs — who has been attacked by civil rights, gay rights and abortion rights groups for his record when he served as a conservative Democrat in the state House — from the other nominees negotiated as a package among Georgia’s Republican senators and White House officials.

A judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, Boggs has been attacked for a vote to preserve the former Georgia state flag, which included the Confederate battle emblem, among other things. He had a testy confirmation hearing last month, with Democrats in the rare position of going after one of President Barack Obama’s nominees.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said of Boggs: “More time is needed to follow up on his recent testimony before his nomination will be scheduled for a vote.”

Among the items of interest for Leahy and his staff is an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story from last month with photos showing Boggs attending fundraisers for a group called Georgia Conservatives in Action that featured political candidates. It could contradict Boggs' committee testimony that he was unaware of the group's political activities.

The White House has defended Boggs as a qualified jurist who is being attacked for his political record — not what he’s done on the bench.

Leahy’s move on the other nominees, which he said came at the request of Georgia Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, opens the door for faster confirmations for the less controversial picks. Some of the vacancies have been open for years and have been declared “judicial emergencies” by the U.S. Courts.

Boggs, DeKalb County Judge Eleanor Ross and Atlanta lawyers Mark Cohen and Leigh Martin May are nominated to the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Julie Carnes and Atlanta lawyer Jill Pryor are nominated to the federal appeals court in Atlanta. Federal prosecutor Leslie Abrams is nominated to the U.S. District Court in Macon.

The committee could vote the six Georgia nominees through to the full Senate on Thursday, though any member could request that the nominations be held for an additional week.