R. Robin McDonald
Daily Report , June 19, 2014
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted unanimously to send the names of six nominees for open federal judgeships in Georgia to the Senate floor for confirmation.
At the suggestion of Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a quorum of the committee agreed to a voice vote on the six Georgia nominees as a block.
The block vote also included nominees for five other federal judgeships in California, Louisiana, Florida and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The Georgia nominees whose names are being forwarded to the full Senate for confirmation include Julie Carnes, chief judge of the Northern District of Georgia, and Atlanta attorney Jill Pryor, a partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, for two seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Troutman Sanders partner Mark Cohen, DeKalb County State Court Judge Eleanor Ross and Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer partner Leigh Martin May for seats on the Northern District bench; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Abrams for an Albany judgeship in the Middle District of Georgia.
Before the vote, Leahy announced that Georgia's two Republican senators had asked "if we might be able to move these [nominations] out today, and I said we would."
Notably absent from the list of Georgia nominees was Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, who Leahy announced last week would not be placed on the committee agenda for a vote.
At last week's committee meeting, Leahy said that he was delaying consideration of Boggs' nomination because more time was needed "to follow up on his recent testimony."
He also said that Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson had asked that Leahy "move forward with the Georgia nominees who were ready for a vote."
More than two dozen national civil rights, abortion rights and gay rights organizations have been working to defeat Boggs' nomination because of his conservative voting record while he served in the Georgia General Assembly from 2001 to 2004.
During that time, Boggs voted against removing a Confederate emblem from the state flag, supported a public registry of doctors who perform abortions, voted to place more regulatory restrictions on abortions and supported a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Boggs took fire at his confirmation hearing from senators who challenged his failure to include his more controversial stances among the background materials he submitted to the judiciary committee. Several senators also questioned whether Boggs may have violated Georgia's judicial ethics code by contributing $2,500 to a non-profit conservative political group headquartered in his old legislative district.
Ranking minority leader Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said before the vote that although he had "some concerns" on several of the Georgia nominations, he had decided to support "moving them out of committee today."
"Both of our colleagues from Georgia support these nominees," he said. "I took that into account when I reviewed each of the nominees' records."
Grassley then noted that Boggs' nomination "is not yet on the agenda."
"When this committee does consider Judge Boggs' nomination, I would hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle would afford the Georgia senators the same deference with respect to that nomination as members of our side so often afford nominees."