Harry Reid "Can't Vote" for Obama's Controversial Nominee

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 14 2014 6:15 PM

Harry Reid "Can't Vote" for Obama's Controversial Nominee

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not pleased with Michael Boggs.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out swinging against President Obama's controversial nominee Michael Boggs—who, if confirmed, would have life tenure as a U.S. District Court judge. Currently a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, Boggs has drawn scorn from the left for supporting anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-Confederate flag legislation during his time as a Georgia Democratic state legislator. Now Reid has brought down the hammer against Boggs, telling Buzzfeed that

Unless I have a better explanation. I can’t vote for him. This is a lifetime appointment. He’s said some things and made some decisions I think are not very good. ... Boggs is not somebody I’m going to vote for unless I have some explanations on why he did that deal with the rebel flag and things he’s said about abortion.
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With this warning, Reid joins several high-ranking Democratic senators, including Richard Durbin, in questioning the wisdom of Boggs' nomination. Thus far, the White House has provided only tepid support for its nominee; press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday that "the president of course believes that each senator should vote as he or she sees fit," and that "the president supports voting your conscience as a general matter." But Carney added the caveat that "the president would disagree with any assessment by anyone that reached the conclusion that Judge Boggs is not qualified for this post."

Boggs' nomination is part of a complex deal with Georgia's Republican senators to fill several judicial vacancies in the state at once. The controversy surrounding Boggs, however, threatens to bring the compromise tumbling down, returning the Senate to its typical partisan gridlock. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.