Political Insider

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It's over: Obama will not re-nominate Judge Michael Boggs


WASHINGTON -- The White House has told Georgia's U.S. Senators that President Barack Obama will not re-nominate Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs to a federal judgeship next year, after Democrats blocked him for socially conservative stances he took in the past.

Georgia Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss revealed the news in a press release Tuesday night:

“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.

"Judge Boggs has served the state with honor and integrity as an appellate and trial judge, and he has demonstrated a commitment to improving the criminal justice system through his work with the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council and Drug Courts.  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.”

The other six nominees were confirmed this year, but Democrats raised several objections to Boggs. Foremost in the eyes of Georgia's Democratic U.S. House members was his vote while in the state House -- as a Democrat from Waycross in the early 2000s -- to keep the old state flag, featuring the Confederate battle emblem.

Liberal groups sprang into the unusual fight against a nominee of a president from their own party. Abortion rights and gay rights groups objected to aspects of Boggs' record. He faced a grilling in the Judiciary Committee and submitted lengthy follow-up statements to the panel, but was never given an up-or-down vote.

Boggs would probably have fared better in 2015 under a Republican Senate, but instead of negotiating a package of some liberal and some conservative judges, Obama can work to fill this single vacancy -- and try to anoint someone his base will not reject.

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, who led the charge against Boggs, sent along the following through a spokesman:

"I'm glad that the President has closed the door on this nomination so we can start the new year looking ahead, not back. There are hundreds of qualified attorneys in Georgia who could serve as a federal judge and I ask that an open and fair process be used to select the next nominees."

Boggs is the first nominee caught in such a fate since President George W. Bush tried to nominate his White House counsel to the Supreme Court.

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The Wall Street Journal has a Dalton dateline today in a story about the effects of Obama's executive action on immigration. A key passage:

Georgia is among more than 20 mostly GOP-leaning states that have sued the president to block his move. The state also is one of a handful that doesn’t allow immigrant students who benefited from the 2012 federal DACA program to pay in-state tuition at public colleges.

In Dalton, however, “we try to stay out of the noise and finger-pointing,” said Brian Anderson, president of the Dalton Chamber of Commerce. “I believe [the executive action] could only improve our community.”

Immigrants form the backbone of the carpet industry here, which generates $20 billion in revenue annually. They began arriving in the late 1980s as producers faced a labor shortage amid soaring demand for wall-to-wall carpeting. The arrivals were happy to do menial jobs, such as feeding yarn into tufting machines. “If you were willing to work hard, the jobs were there,” said Mr. Anderson. Today, Dalton has about 16,000 Hispanic residents out of a total of 30,000. In 1990, the Hispanic population numbered just 1,400. That same year, resident Jim Baird started a nonprofit to provide services like document translation for immigrants. He helped 43 Latinos the first month, 100 the next, and hundreds more thereafter.Some had crossed the border and headed straight to Dalton; others relocated from Texas and California, he recalls.

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The Concerned Women for America is lining up behind state Rep. Sam Teasley's "religious liberty" bill, which is sure to be one of the biggest issues of the legislative session.

Tanya Ditty, CWA's Georgia state director, passed along a statement in support, saying:

“Religious freedom is the bedrock of all liberty, and it must be defended now for the sake of the generations that come behind us. ...

“Without a state RFRA, Georgians operate at a disadvantage when it comes to potential religious discrimination lawsuits from state entities. This legislation is thus necessary to protect the liberty of all Georgians to practice religion – which includes living their faith, not just worshipping on one particular day in a designated place - without fear of government retaliation.”

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Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Cassandra Kirk, an African-American female, as Fulton County's Chief Magistrate Judge.

The Georgia GOP called attention to the appointment, highlighting its continuing efforts to court minorities. From the GAGOP's minority engagement director, Leo Smith:

"Judge Kirk is a devoted child advocate who works tirelessly to ensure that younger generations have better opportunities to prosper and thrive," said Smith.  "I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Cassandra over the years and consider her a bold leader in the judicial community and a friend to our minority engagement efforts.

"As Chief Magistrate Judge of Fulton County, Cassandra will fight the good fight and labor for the betterment of the communities she serves.  My heartfelt congratulations to Judge Kirk and her loved ones.  I am confident that she will make us all proud!"

Here's more on Kirk from the Daily Report's Kathleen Baydala Joyner:

Kirk will replace current Fulton County Chief Magistrate Stephanie Davis, whose term expires on Dec. 31. Kirk is an associate judge with the Fulton County Juvenile Court. She earned her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., and was admitted to the bar in 1993.

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The Marietta Daily Journal interviewed Barry Loudermilk about his transition to Congress and revealed some staffing news for the Cassville Republican. We had previously told you about his campaign manager Rob Adkerson becoming chief of staff, but here's more on Team Loudermilk:

He said he and his staff pulled out a map and chose locations for the office so that none of his constituents would be more than 20 minutes away from one of his offices.

One office will be in Woodstock, one will be in Bartow County and the third will be somewhere between Marietta and Cumberland, though Loudermilk said the office won’t open until April or May.

Overseeing these offices will be [district director] Caric Martin, who worked for 15 years as CFO of Georgia State Bank — founded by former Gov. Roy Barnes. ...

Loudermilk said he will not be hiring a press secretary, but will instead let his new communications director, Shawna Mercer, handle those duties. Mercer, originally from Tampa Bay, worked for former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist from 2007-09, when she moved to Georgia. ...

Mercer, who lives near KSU, came to work in the Georgia Senate press office in Oct. 2011, where she met Loudermilk, a former state senator. Mercer will be based in Georgia, Loudermilk said, though she will take trips to Washington about once a month.


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