President Barack Obama’s nomination of Michael Boggs to serve on the federal bench is causing members of the Congressional Black Caucus to turn on each other and sparking rare criticism of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a revered civil rights icon.Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) unleashed on Lewis on Sunday night after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) indicated earlier in the day that she spoke to Lewis and he signaled support for Boggs’ inclusion in a package deal of judicial nominees that Obama agreed to with Georgia’s Republican senators. A former Georgia state legislator, Boggs has come under fire from progressive groups over his votes to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag and to require doctors who perform abortions to post online their names and the number of abortions they performed.
“John Lewis has betrayed Georgia if this is his new position,” Scott told The Huffington Post in a statement. “He is speaking for the White House and not women, African-Americans or gays with this new position, and he has turned his back on his own supporters.”
He also went after Lewis on Twitter, calling him a “turncoat” if he is now backing Boggs.
— David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 18, 2014
A request for comment from Lewis’ office was not returned.
That a fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus is criticizing Lewis is a remarkable turn in an already heated fight over Boggs’ confirmation. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to criticize Lewis, who is hailed on Capitol Hill and beyond for his role in the civil rights movement. He was a central figure in the fight to end legalized racial discrimination and segregation, and he’s the only living “Big Six” leader of the movement.
But critics of Boggs have been puzzled by Lewis in recent weeks. When Obama first announced Boggs’ nomination in January, Lewis stood alongside other prominent civil rights leaders in urging that his nomination be rescinded. Lately, though, Lewis has gone silent — just as Boggs’ nomination is starting to move through the Senate.
In the meantime, key senators have said their final decision on Boggs will be shaped by private conversations they have with Lewis. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Feinstein are among them, though Reid has already said flatly that he opposes Boggs and hinted that he may not even let him get a floor vote. Durbin and Feinstein have also raised concerns with him.
Source: Black Voices | Jennifer Bendery