People for the American Way are reporting that Bush has just nominated yet another racist, sexist, anti-labor judge to a seat on the Federal bench, this time for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Bush has nominated Leslie Southwick to fill a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Bush previously tried to fill the seat with Charles Pickering and then Michael Wallace, both of whom faced significant opposition due to their disturbing legal records, especially on civil rights.
“Regrettably, Southwick also has a troubling record and appears to be cut from the same cloth as the others,” said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way. “First Pickering, then Wallace, and now Southwick – Bush has completely struck out on the Fifth Circuit.”
Southwick served as a judge on Mississippi’s intermediate appellate court – the Mississippi Court of Appeals – from 1995-2006. The court does not routinely consider the types of federal constitutional and civil rights matters that come before the Fifth Circuit, but Southwick’s judicial record is telling nonetheless. Two cases in particular serve to highlight Southwick’s lack of commitment to the social justice progress of the last fifty years.
In 1998, 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.
“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,” said Neas. “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.”
The Fifth Circuit comprises Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas – the 3 states that “have the highest percentage of minorities in the country”, so naturally you’d want another racist embedded in the upper levels of the judicial system to make shuah awl theym cull-ed folk duzzen git too uppity.
This ought to be a slam-dunk (RegTM G. Tenet) for a Democratic Congress but apparently the Pubs, fresh from the recent Democratic Unconditional Surrender and feeling their oats, are putting heavy pressure on the Dems to give the Emperor what he wants for once.
Up til now, the Congressional leadership has been doing yeoman service keeping total right-wing whackos off the federal bench (Caligula Jr seems to have an endless supply of nutbags, ditzes, dictator wanna-be’s, democracy- and Constitution-haters, racists, Xtian fundamentalists, misogynists, misanthropes, and child pornographers at his disposal to choose from) but after last week, how can we be sure this gut-coward “majority” run by corporate fanboys from the DLC will maintain their opposition?
Truth? We fucking can’t. Not any more.
As if handing the Emperor a blank check for a war they supposedly were going to shut down isn’t bad enough, these spineless human porta-potties are making backroom trade deals with Bush that will eviscerate all the labor and environmental protections they’ve have been promising to add for years. Gone. Poof! Just like that. (More on that travesty coming.)
We can’t trust the buggers. They had a brief, shining moment when they looked different but that’s all over now.
The fucking DLC is still running The Show – which is all it’s rapidly becoming. An illusion, an entertainment for the blind masses.
I think maybe Cindy Sheehan is right.
Update 6/5/07: An NYT editorial agrees.
A non-negotiable quality for judicial nominees is that they must be committed to equal justice. Judge Southwick, whom President Bush has nominated for a seat on the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, repeatedly failed this test as a Mississippi state court judge.
He clearly failed the test when he ruled for a social worker who was rightfully fired for calling a black colleague “a good ole nigger.” Judge Southwick is known for siding with employers over employees — but not in this case. In his ruling, he revealed a thorough lack of understanding of the odious impact of such language when he accepted the social worker’s claim that the use of the slur was “not motivated out of racial hatred or animosity directed toward her co-worker or toward blacks in general.” Judge Southwick did not even vote to direct the state to consider a penalty short of firing, as the Mississippi Supreme Court later did.
And he failed the test when he joined a majority opinion that denied a bisexual mother custody of her child. Adding insult to injury, he joined a concurring opinion that went on to berate the mother for her “decision to participate in a homosexual relationship” and reminded her that one of the consequences of her “exertion of her perceived right” was that she might lose her child.
The Magnolia Bar Association, an association of black Mississippi lawyers founded when the state bar was restricted to whites, has urged the Senate to reject the nomination, saying, “We question whether Judge Southwick will properly enforce the law when it comes to the rights of those who are unpopular and who are marginalized by the political process.” They are right. After his performance as a state court judge, it would be hard for a black person with a discrimination case, or a gay person with a family law issue, to have any confidence that Judge Southwick would treat them fairly.
Judge Southwick’s judicial record also shows the usual pattern of President Bush’s judicial nominees: insensitivity toward workers, consumers and people injured by corporations. The federal appeals courts are already overloaded with judges who hold these biases.
When the voters put Democrats in the majority in Congress last fall, they were sending a message that the era of extremism in Washington should come to an end. Senate Democrats can show that they understood this message by rejecting Judge Southwick and insisting on a more moderate nominee, who will respect the rights of all.
For George W Bush, “the rights of all” is a meaningless phrase. His judge-choices pretty much prove that he believes “rights” belong only to the rich, the white, the conservative, and corporations, and that there can’t be “too many” racist, homophobic, anti-labor Federal judges for him. The more the merrier. Congress turns down one of his anti-democratic nominations and he just comes right back with three more.
Will the Dems cave this time? It’s getting to be a habit with them.