WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is facing a liberal revolt in the Senate over two high-priority judicial nominations, potentially jeopardizing its push to shape the federal judiciary in advance of the midterm congressional election.

The disputes, which involve hot-button issues including abortion and drones, could come to a head as early as Tuesday.

On one side, the White House is standing behind deals with Republican senators. On the other side are some liberal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America, which find themselves for the first time in open conflict with the Obama administration over its choices for the federal bench.

The fights highlight an ongoing problem for Obama’s nominees: Even though Democrats changed Senate rules to eliminate filibusters of judicial nominees other than Supreme Court justices, senators have other ways to stall action.

Two nominees expected to come up in the Senate on Tuesday are the particular focus of liberal ire, but the revolt could endanger half a dozen other nominees.

Liberals are incensed that the administration is pushing hard for Michael Boggs, a judge on Georgia’s state Court of Appeals, to join the federal bench in Georgia. Boggs, a conservative Democrat, voted while in the state Legislature to reinstate a version of the Confederate flag as the state flag, opposed same-sex marriage and took positions on abortion that critics say would have limited women’s rights.


His nomination “will go down in history as one of the worst acts of this president,” said Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., a centrist African-American who represents Atlanta suburbs.

Obama “should have had the guts to say, ‘You think I can do this to my own black people, nominate a man who would keep the vicious symbol of segregation and white supremacy?’” Scott said.

Women’s groups are also upset, saying that legislation Boggs sponsored would have required parents to attend their teenagers’ abortions and that he supported legislation to define children as “both born and unborn.”

As that fight plays out, prominent senators from both parties, backed by the ACLU, are trying to block, or at least delay, a vote on Harvard law professor David Barron. Obama has nominated Barron to be a judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from New England.

As a Justice Department lawyer, Barron wrote at least one memo that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was slain by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The fight over Barron has made complicated alliances. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon have joined the ACLU in saying all of Barron’s memos on drones must be made public or at least made available to senators before any vote.

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