Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Fetured 2014 Nominee

Saving the Soul of Georgia
Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights

By Maurice C. Daniels
Foreword by Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

Donald L. Hollowell was Georgia’s chief civil rights attorney during the 1950s and 1960s. In this role he defended African American men accused or convicted of capital crimes in a racially hostile legal system, represented movement activists arrested for their civil rights work, and fought to undermine the laws that maintained state-sanctioned racial discrimination. In Saving the Soul of Georgia, Maurice C. Daniels tells the story of this behind-the-scenes yet highly influential civil rights lawyer who defended the rights of blacks and advanced the cause of social justice in the United States.

Hollowell grew up in Kansas somewhat insulated from the harsh conditions imposed by Jim Crow laws throughout the South. As a young man he served as a Buffalo Soldier in the legendary Tenth Cavalry, but it wasn’t until after he fought in World War II that he determined to become a civil rights attorney. The war was an eye-opener, as Hollowell experienced the cruel discrimination of racist segregationist policies. The irony of defending freedom abroad for the sake of preserving Jim Crow laws at home steeled his resolve to fight for civil rights upon returning from war.

From his legal work in the case of Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter that desegregated the University of Georgia to his defense of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to his collaboration with Thurgood Marshall and his service as the NAACP’s chief counsel in Georgia, Saving the Soul of Georgia explores the intersection of Hollowell's work wit the larger civil rights movement.


“Donald Hollowell—a brilliant and courageous lawyer known as Georgia’s ‘Mr. Civil Rights’—has long deserved a biography to match his talents. In Saving the Soul of Georgia, this lion of the civil rights movement finally receives what he has so richly deserved. Daniels’s book is a magnificent contribution to the literature on the black freedom struggle and the local lawyers who helped sustain it.”

—Tomiko Brown-Nagin, author of Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement, winner of the Bancroft Prize

“Maurice Daniels’s compelling biography of Donald Hollowell shines light on a pioneer attorney whose work in the trenches was absolutely essential to the civil rights movement. Hollowell was the preferred attorney for the student activists pushing the struggle forward, his contributions ranging from the back roads of Georgia to federal courtrooms, from plotting legal strategy to negotiating and advising. Daniels gives us a wonderful portrait of an important civil rights activist and adds another layer to our understanding of what it took to create a successful movement.”

—Emilye Crosby, editor of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement

Friday, June 20, 2014

Six Georgia Nominees For Federal Judgeships Head to Senate Floor

 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."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Boggs to Be Left Out of Judiciary Committee Vote

R. Robin McDonald
Daily Report, June 11, 2014

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said the panel on Thursday will consider the confirmation of six of Georgia's seven federal nominees, but not that of state Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs.
Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he was placing nominees Jill Pryor and Judge Julie Carnes for two slots on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Mark Cohen, Judge Eleanor Ross and Leigh Martin May for three slots on the Northern District of Georgia; and Leslie Abrams for a seat in the Middle District of Georgia in Albany on Thursday's agenda at the request of Georgia's senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
"I have always consulted with home state senators regarding nominations in their states, and Senator Chambliss and Senator Isakson asked that I move forward with the Georgia nominees who were ready for a committee vote," said Leahy.
A Chambliss spokeswoman had no comment. Isakson's press aide could not be reached immediately Wednesday.
The committee will delay consideration of Boggs' nomination because "More time is needed to follow up on his recent testimony," the chairman added.
Civil rights, abortion rights and gay rights organizations are working to defeat Boggs' nomination because of his conservative voting record while a state legislator from 2001 to 2004. During that time, Boggs voted against removing a Confederate emblem from the state flag, and supported a public registry of doctors who perform abortions and a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Last month Boggs said he was "offended" by the flag, but his constituents wanted a vote on any change; he disavowed the abortion registration bill; and he said his positions on same-sex marriage "may or may not" have changed.

Monday, June 9, 2014

African-American Lawyers Blast JNC for Lack of Diversity

Katheryn Hayes Tucker
Daily Report, June 8, 2014

The Judicial Nominating Commissions of Gov. Nathan Deal and his predecessor became a target of outrage during a three-hour discussion Friday about ways to improve diversity in federal and state courts.

The topic packed the room at the State Bar's annual meeting at Amelia Island and kept lawyers and judges talking about it afterward.

"It just defies belief," said Mawuli Davis of Davis Bozeman in Decatur, referring to the composition of Deal's Judicial Nominating Commission, which includes one African-American member out of 20. Davis represented Wayne Kendall, an attorney who sued the JNC this year to force compliance with an open records request for information about applicants for judicial positions.

Moderator Meka Ward of Thomas Kennedy Sampson & Tompkins, president of the Gate City Bar Association, asked the panel whether state law should require the JNC to include members who represent all portions of the population of Georgia.

Davis said yes.

Also answering yes was panelist Francys Johnson, a solo attorney from Statesboro, who is president of the NAACP of Georgia. Johnson said the hurdle to progress is a "fundamental failure to understand American racism."

"It's about a legal construct," he said. "It's about a political expediency that protects it."

Davis and Johnson took aim in the debate at Robert Highsmith Jr. of Holland & Knight, a member of Deal's JNC and that of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the lone white male on the panel of four men.

The fourth panelist was former DeKalb State Court Judge Antonio DelCampo, who is Latino and now in private practice. He admonished minority lawyers to identify and prepare potential judges so that "it cannot be said that there were no qualified candidates."

Highsmith made a vigorous effort to defend the diversity record of both governors he has served. He emphasized Perdue's appointment of Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold Melton, who is African-American, and Deal's appointment of Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Carla Wong McMillian, who is Asian-American.

Highsmith also defended the JNC against charges of a lack of diversity, saying that the one African-American member, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James, is a "strong voice" in the group. "To call Robert James one out of 20 is an underestimation of his influence on the commission," Highsmith said.

Highsmith's logic failed to impress his co-panelists, who answered that James is still one person.

"I know Robert James," said Davis. "He has limits. He doesn't know every black lawyer in the state of Georgia."

Then Davis asked Highsmith, "Are you telling us good things will come to those who wait? We need more than these empty promises."

After enduring more criticism, Highsmith acknowledged, "This is a frustrating position to be in"--drawing a roar of sardonic laughter from the room.

The debate was so intense that at one point Ward had to intervene to stop the panelists from being interrupted. "I am controling these men," she said. "I am the moderator, and I am the president. We will go one at a time."

President Barack Obama drew fire for the diversity of his nominees to federal court as well. "I'm disappointed," said Johnson. "History will judge this president harshly."

In an earlier panel that focused on nominations to federal courts, Leslie Proll, director of the Washington office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told the group that no president has appointed more African-American judges than President Jimmy Carter did in one term. Carter, she said, "still holds the gold standard."

When Ward asked the panelists to describe how diversity--or the lack thereof--affects a community, Johnson talked about "the other Georgia," where some counties have never had an African-American judge. He quoted Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham: "There is so much discrestion in the law. Discretion is based on your experience."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Featured 2014 Nominee

Race and Remembering in the Civil War's Aftermath

After conquering Atlanta in the summer of 1864 and occupying it for two months, Union forces laid waste to the city in November. William T. Sherman's invasion was a pivotal moment in the history of the South and Atlanta's rebuilding over the following fifty years came to represent the contested meaning of the Civil War itself. The war's aftermath brought contentious transition from Old South to New for whites and African Americans alike. Historian William Link argues that this struggle defined the broader meaning of the Civil War in the modern South, with no place embodying the region's past and future more clearly than Atlanta.

Link frames the city as both exceptional--because of the incredible impact of the war there and the city's phoenix-like postwar rise--and as a model for other southern cities. He shows how, in spite of the violent reimposition of white supremacy, freedpeople in Atlanta built a cultural, economic, and political center that helped to define black America.


About the Author

William A. Link is Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. He is author or editor of thirteen books, including Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism.



“Recommended. Undergraduate libraries and up.”

“An unparalleled introduction to the history of nineteenth-century Atlanta. . . . Link’s pioneering and engaging study merits the attention of professional historians and general readers alike.”
   --Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“This is an important book, and William Link shows that Atlanta was indeed a place where the past and the future, the Civil War and the New South, race and economics, and memory and reality converged.”
   --North Carolina Historical Review

“Filled with useful information and is richly detailed.”
   --Journal of American Studies
"Lively and original. Link presents a thorough and carefully nuanced account of the role of race in the remarkable story of Atlanta's destruction and re-emergence as a center of black intellectual and economic life thereafter. This will be the definitive account of Atlanta and the rise of the New South for many years to come."
   --Lacy Ford, University of South Carolina

"From Sherman's March to Gone with the Wind, Atlanta plays a central role in Americans' shared memory of the Civil War. William Link's rich narrative sifts through the ashes of Atlanta's history to reveal the fascinating, and true, stories hidden beneath."
   --Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Boggs Provides Written Answers to Senators

Follow-up questions ask for more details on former state legislator's stance on abortion, same-sex marriage and Georgia's flag

R. Robin McDonald

Daily Report  June 4, 2014

Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee weren't content to interrogate Georgia federal judicial candidate Michael Boggs for nearly two hours at his May 13 confirmation hearing.
Seven senators asked the Georgia Court of Appeals judge follow-up questions in writing—and, as in the hearing, focused on his conservative stances as a state legislator more than a decade ago. Boggs on Monday responded with 74 pages of answers.
The inquiries largely pressed Boggs to elaborate on his positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, activist judges, judicial ethics, and his support for the old Georgia flag, which included the Confederate battle emblem. Democrats who sent questions included Richard Blumenthal, Conn., Dianne Feinstein, Calif., Al Franken, Minn., Christopher Coons, Del., and Patrick Leahy, the panel chairman, of Vermont. Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas also added queries.
At his confirmation hearing, Boggs took fire from Democrats for his support of bills that would have: created a public registry of doctors who offered abortion services in Georgia; required minor teenagers who sought an abortion to be accompanied by a parent or guardian who would have to provide photo identification; and created a state license plate promoting a pro-life philosophy that would have funded pregnancy centers as long as they not offer abortion services or counsel young women about abortion.
Coons also pushed Boggs on whether he violated the Georgia Code of Judicial Ethics when his campaign re-election committee contributed $2,500 to Georgia Conservatives in Action in 2012.
At the hearing, Boggs disavowed many of the positions he had taken as a legislator, calling them ill-conceived or inappropriate. He also acknowledged that, as a legislator, he had made mistakes, not paid attention, or was otherwise unaware of the nature or impact of the more controversial bills or amendments he had favored. He also urged committee members to look at his track record as a judge, which he said was built on his intent "to follow the rule of law and follow precedent."
Of significant concern to committee Democrats who posed additional questions to Boggs was the former legislator's 2001 vote in favor of a bill that would have publicized the names of doctors who provided abortion services. Boggs explained in his response to questions from Blumenthal, who was publicly skeptical of Boggs before the hearing, that he had no recollection of the amendment, which was first voted on by the Georgia House of Representatives in February 2001 and again on the last day of the 2001 legislative session.
Boggs also said that while he understands "from recent press reports that the issue of violence against abortion doctors was debated on the House floor that day … I do not remember having even heard of the amendment prior to the author presenting it on the floor of the House just prior to the final vote."
Boggs said the underlying bill to which the abortion registry amendment was attached was the creation of a patient-accessible registry of doctors that would include their credentials, their hospital privileges, participation in the state Medicaid program, a criminal background check, and disciplinary actions by regulatory boards and resignations from previous medical facilities.
"The underlying bill," Boggs wrote, "had nothing to do with women's reproductive rights, and I was not focused on that issue."
Boggs also said that in voting for the amendment, he gave no consideration to the issue of violence against abortion doctors. "I was considering the bill as a whole, the purpose of which was [predominantly] to educate and make available to the public information concerning a physician's disciplinary history and malpractice judgments," he wrote.
Leahy zeroed in on a comment Boggs made at the hearing as he explained some of his earlier stances. Boggs said that when he was a legislator, "I did not have an obligation to be faithful to the rule of law."
"Why," Leahy asked in the first of his written questions, "do you believe legislators are not obligated to be faithful to the rule of law?"
Boggs replied: "I did not mean to imply that legislators are above the law or not bound to the laws of our society. ... I simply meant that legislators do not have the same obligations of faithfulness to precedent as judges. Legislators have discretion to make any law deemed appropriate within its powers, whereas the judiciary has a more specific and constrained duty of adherence to precedent."

Comments on Georgia flag

Asked at his hearing about votes against removing the Confederate battle emblem from the Georgia flag, Boggs testified that he was representing the will of his south Georgia constituents, who, he said, wanted a referendum on whether to replace the flag.
In written questions, Leahy asked Boggs whether he had consulted African-American constituents before the flag vote. Boggs replied: "I considered the views of all of my constituents when I cast that vote 13 years ago."
Boggs wrote that he spoke with "several African-American constituents, including both elected officials and members of the general public. While they generally made known their support for changing the flag, those with whom I spoke always stated that they supported me regardless of how I voted, and indeed, when I faced a challenger in my 2002 Democratic primary election, roughly one year after the flag vote, I was re-elected with 90 percent of the vote in my district."
During the hearing, Boggs testified that in voting to retain the old flag, he had voted against the dictates of his conscience. Leahy asked for examples of votes where Boggs had cast a vote of conscience that placed him at odds with his constituents.
Boggs said that as a legislator he cast "thousands of votes, some of which I am sure were based on my personal beliefs which differed from that of the majority of my constituents or were not in alignment with my political party's interest."
He also clarified what he meant by voting his conscience. "For me, voting my conscience as a legislator sometimes meant casting votes contrary to what I considered to be the will of the majority of my constituents, and on other occasions voting my conscience meant casting votes contrary to what party leadership desired," Boggs said. "I did not mean to suggest that my particular 'votes of conscience' were necessarily cast only when presented with a moral choice on a public policy matter."
Following up on Boggs' public statement of regret for his vote to retain the old Georgia flag, Blumenthal asked whether Boggs, prior to his nomination, had ever disavowed the vote.
"The vote occurred over 13 years ago and during the intervening years, no one has ever sought to discuss this vote with me publicly or privately until my consideration for the district court," Boggs replied. "Until my confirmation hearing, I have never publicly discussed the vote or my personal position on the matter."

Same-sex marriage

During his hearing, Boggs also had to explain his 2004 introduction of a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriages in Georgia and reject as legitimate same-sex marriages that legally had taken place in other states. Judiciary Committee Democrats representing states where same-sex marriage is legal had more questions for the nominee.
When Boggs introduced the resolution, he said the amendment was "premised on good conservative Christian values" and that "as a Christian and a lawyer" he urged his fellow legislators to support it. In that speech, Boggs also said amending the state constitution was necessary to prohibit challenges to a Georgia law already on the books banning same-sex marriage and to guard against "the dangers that we face with respect to activist judges."
Feinstein asked Boggs why he voted for the amendment. Boggs said he did so because "I was personally opposed to same-sex marriages …. The overwhelming majority of my constituents agreed with this position at that time as evidenced by the fact that when the constitutional amendment was presented to the public for a vote in November of 2004, 90 percent of the constituents from my legislative district who voted, voted in favor of the proposed amendment."
But, he added, "The issue looked different to me 10 years ago when I was serving in a very different role as a state legislator than it looks now, especially having been a judge for the last 10 years." Boggs said he introduced the measure because the House Speaker, Terry Coleman, a Democrat, asked him to do so "to demonstrate that there was support for this resolution within the state from among rural Democrats," 48 of whom subsequently voted with Boggs.
Feinstein and Leahy also targeted Boggs' references to activist judges in that speech, asking questions intended to clarify whether Boggs believed that three U.S. Supreme Court opinions written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1996, 2003 and 2013 that expanded civil rights for homosexuals made Kennedy an activist judge.
Wrote Boggs: "Judges have an obligation to apply precedent and uphold the Constitution, and if confirmed, I am committed to faithfully applying precedent," he said. That, he said, includes Kennedy's opinions in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 12 (2013), Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), and Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).
"I believe that my record as a state court judge for 10 years demonstrates my commitment to precedent and to treating all litigants who appear before me fairly, equally, and with respect and dignity," Boggs wrote.
Boggs said that he would now define judicial activism as "the act of judges who decide cases based on their own personal public policy preferences or who decide cases without regard to strict compliance with the law and precedent."
"I have no reason to believe that any judge who decides, under the constitution of a state or the United States, that gay and lesbian Americans have a right to marry or to have a marriage recognized is activist," he said.
Feinstein also pushed Boggs as to why, when he was campaigning for the Waycross Superior Court bench in 2004, that he told his constituents, "you don't have to guess where I stand—I oppose same-sex marriages …. I have a record that tells you exactly what I stand for."
Said Boggs: "I have no idea why I would have said that other than, like any other candidate for public office, I was running based on my record of community and legislative service. Given the jurisdiction of the court for which I was seeking office, this issue was not likely to come before me. Looking back, I regret that I was not more articulate and wish that I had better explained myself and the role of the office which I was seeking more artfully. This comment was made while I was running for judge, but also while I was still a state legislator, and I should have done a better job of separating the roles."