Jamelle Bouie: Pres. Obama Needs To Be More Ideological—And Stop Nominating Judges Who Anger His Democratic Base.

Source: Jamelle Bouie / Slate

During his time in the Georgia state house, Michael Boggs targeted abortion rights, voted to keep the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag, and defended discrimination against same-sex couples as “premised on good Christian values.”

But, thanks to an agreement between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators—Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson—he’s now one of two judicial nominees expected to come to the Senate on Tuesday.

Liberal groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America aren’t happy, and they’re right; there’s no reason a Democratic president should nominate a reactionary to the federal judiciary, even if he’s better than the alternatives—it feels like a betrayal. With that said, it’s important to understand how we got to a place where a liberal president is backing a revanchist conservative to a lifetime position on the federal bench.

For the last five years, a combination of Republican obstruction and White House neglect has left the federal judiciary with a record number of vacancies. With the end of the filibuster on judicial nominees other than Supreme Court judges, however, one part of the problem was solved: Republicans had fewer avenues for hindering the process. But there were still obstacles, and at least one of them was built by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.

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