Wednesday, May 30, 2007



Bush has gotten some of the worst judges ever nominated for anything confimed and we'll be suffering the consequences for years to come, not just on the Supreme Court but throughout the judicial system. In terms of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, though, Bush's nominees have been so gratuitously unqualified and extremist that they have been unable to win confirmation. Even Republicans were choking on a radical right ideologue like Charles Pickering and when the Bush Regime moved to replace that dismal nomination with the even more bigoted Michael Wallace that flopped too. And it isn't getting any better. The latest nightrider nightmare that Bush is trying to foist on us is former Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick, a racist amd bigoted asshole every bit as unacceptable to normal Americans as Pickering and Wallace.

A couple weeks ago Judith Schaeffer sent up a warning flare at Huff Po, alerting the public to Southwick's homophobia and racism-- and the fact that he seems proud of both traits. Next week the Senate Judiciary Committee-- rushed into this by Miss McConnell's threats to tie up the Senate if some Bush appointees don't get confirmed fast-- takes up the case of Leslie Southwick and will decide whether or not to send this controversial nomination on to the full Senate, where he will be able to count on a handful of reactionary Democrats (and a reactionary ex-Democrat) to support Bush's goal of stuffing the courts full of pro-corporate, anti-civil rights judicial activists.

We can't let Democrats, now ostensibly in the majority, cave in and let us down on this one, the way they did on Alito and Roberts. As Ralph Neas of People For the American Way said today "regrettably, Southwick also has a troubling record and appears to be cut from the same cloth as [Pickering and Wallace]... Just like Pickering and Wallace before him, Southwick appears ready and willing to turn back the clock on fifty years of social justice progress in our nation. Southwick had an opportunity at his recent hearing to demonstrate a commitment to Americans’ individual rights and freedoms, but he proved that he still doesn’t get it. The Senate Judiciary Committee must reject Southwick’s confirmation.”

Two of the cases that best illustrate the danger of confirming a character like Southwick are these examples from the Mississippi Court of Appeals:

• In 1998, while on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Southwick joined a ruling in an employment case that upheld the reinstatement, without any punishment whatsoever, of a white state employee who was fired for calling an African American co-worker a "good ole nigger." The court's decision effectively ratified a hearing officer's opinion that the slur was only "somewhat derogatory" and "was in effect calling the individual a 'teacher's pet.'" The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision.

• In 2001, Southwick joined a ruling that upheld a chancellor's decision to take an eight-year-old girl away from her mother and award custody to the father, who had never married the mother, largely because the mother was living with another woman in a "lesbian home." Southwick went even further by joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence which extolled Mississippi's right under "the principles of Federalism" to treat "homosexual persons" as second-class citizens. The concurrence suggested that sexual orientation is a choice and stated that an adult is not "relieved of the consequences of his or her choice" -- e.g., losing custody of one's child.

The Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are all partisan hacks and can all be depended on to support Southwick even if he shows up at the hearings in a white sheet and pillowcase over his head. No need to waste any time contacting the likes of Tom Coburn, Sam Brownback, Jon Kyl, Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Arlen Specter-- or any of the guys who use the same sheet and pillow case tailor as Southwick, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Sessions. On the Democratic side, however, it is crucial that the squishy members be told in no uncertain terms that they must stop this bigot from getting onto the Appeals Court. The Democrats on the committee are Patrick Leahy (VT), Ted Kennedy MA), Russ Feingold (WI), Dick Durbin (IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Ben Cardin (MD) who can all probably be counted on to oppose the nomination. And then there are the possible problems: Joe Biden (DE), Herb Kohl (WI), and Dianne Feinstein (CA).

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At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I urge the President to find a better candidate than Leslie Southwick, whose actions have shown him to be unworthy and insensitive. To allow this nomination to be confirmed would condone and legitimize his obvious disregard for issues that confront minority communities. Southwick made a decision in Richmond v. Mississippi Dept. of Human Services to uphold the reinstatement of a worker who referred to a co-worker as a “good-ole nigger” after a hearing officer found that calling the employee “a good ole nigger’ was the equivalent of calling the employee a “teacher’s pet." Southwick also has a proven pattern of approving peremptory challenges that exclude minorities from juries (striking persons from serving on a jury, usually without giving a reason). Those who serve on the bench must not only have a good judicial temperament and be well-versed in the law, they must also have a sound understanding of what constitutes invidious discrimination, as well as what constitutes a hostile work environment.

We have to assume that people may give us only one clue into their inner-most thinking. We cannot avoid the clues given to us by Southwick in his Richmond v. Mississippi Dept. of Human Services ruling and his rulings on race discrimination in jury selection. These rulings are indicative of Southwick’s willingness to condone overt bigotry and engage in covert discrimination. We cannot ignore this evidence before us-- it must be examined before it is too late and a lifetime appointment is made.

Cragg Hines of the Houston Chronicle was absolutely on target when he compared Southwick to Don Imus. Judges have a necessity to be impartial. Southwick and his Imus-like mentality must not be allowed to serve on the bench in the 5th Circuit, the federal circuit with the highest percentage of minorities. Though we may not have evidence on how he would view other minorities, the evidence we do have tells us this is not a person with an adequate understanding of minority issues. It is essential, knowing what we know now, for the President to rethink and withdraw the nomination of Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals-- Southwick is not the only person available. There are other candidates who are capable, competent, and qualified without this Imus-like mentality and they must be considered.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger sparrow said...

A man who has served the courts with honor and dignity, and the looney left wants to oust him?
Why am I not surprised. An Army veteran, fought to serve his country with an age waiver at 42. Something an anti-american hating cult called liberals would never dream of doing. He deserves to serve on the 5th court of appeals by virtue of his steller record of fairness and equality for all Americans.

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writer of this blog has no clue what he/she is talking about. The decision in the case he arbitrarily and selectively cites was far from bigoted. The bipartisan climate of America is overwhelming as it is without listening to propagada and politically charged rehtoric like this.

P.S. Mr. Hatch may be a Republican, but he is also a true patriot--if only slightly misguided. The things you just said were, in a word, offensive.


A Democrat


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