One of President Obama’s judicial nominees suffered a serious setback Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was opposed to the already-embattled fellow Democrat.
Michael Boggs, who has been nominated to the U.S. District Court in Georgia, already had come under fire from numerous liberal politicians and organizations because of his voting record while in the Georgia state legislature.
Meanwhile, another Obama nominee, David Barron, continued to encounter resistance on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., vowed to filibuster his nomination.
Barron, nominated to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is a former Justice Department official who authored memos to justify the killing of American citizens overseas.
For that nomination, however, Reid took a key procedural step Thursday, teeing up a test vote as early as next week.
Reid’s opposition to Boggs delivered a strong blow to the already-embattled nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee has so far not scheduled a vote on Boggs’ confirmation, and Reid pointedly refrained from saying he should automatically receive a vote in the full Senate.
"Somebody should have looked a little more deeply into his record," Reid said Thursday.
Boggs faced pointed questions about his voting record Tuesday during a Senate hearing, after months of opposition to his nomination from liberal groups and two Democratic congressmen from his home state.
They are upset that while in the Georgia State Assembly, Boggs co-sponsored multiple pieces of pro-life legislation. He also voted for bills against same-sex marriage and to keep the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia flag.
Boggs said at the hearing he was representing his constituents' views. He said he now believes his vote on abortion doctors was wrong, and he was glad the Confederate emblem was later removed from the flag.
"I can separate any political or partisan or public policy position I may have from my ability to be an impartial decision-maker," he said.
The White House also tried to grow support for Barron as Paul voiced his opposition, dispatching departing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and her successor, W. Neil Eggleston, to meet with Democratic senators to discuss his nomination.
Under pressure, administration officials agreed to let senators read unedited copies of all written legal advice that Barron wrote on the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counter terrorism operations, such as the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Al Qaeda leader
Paul said he is not satisfied with the documents after reading them, saying he feels there is no “valid legal precedent” to justify the killing of Americans not engaged in combat.
Reid's announcement on Boggs marked a turnabout in a long-running political drama in which the president's judicial nominees have played starring roles.
Democrats unilaterally changed the application of the Senate's venerable filibuster rules last year to eliminate the requirement of a 60-vote majority to overcome opposition by a minority of critics. They did so after accusing Republicans of slowing confirmation of Obama's picks for the court to a crawl.
Republicans countered that Obama's selections had been winning confirmation at a rate of nearly 100 percent, disputing charges that they were guilty of obstruction.
The White House offered no immediate reaction to Reid's announcement. Earlier in the week, spokesman Jay Carney defended the pick in the wake of the confirmation hearing, saying, "Of all the recent criticisms offered against Michael Boggs, not one is based on his record as a judge for the past 10 years" in state courts.
Boggs was nominated as part of an agreement between Obama and Georgia's two Republican senators, Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, to fill seven vacancies on the bench in the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report