We haven’t blogged much about this but MM was all over it this morning. Bush has been trying to fill this vacancy for years and having his nominees serially borked. Finally he hit on Southwick, whose credentials I’ll leave it to Fred Thompson to relate:
His opponents do not question Judge Southwick’s qualifications to sit on the federal appeals court. Indeed, they cannot. Judge Southwick served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from that court’s very inception in January 1995 through December 2006. Prior to serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, from 1989 to 1993, he was in a general civil private practice for 12 years. He’s taught law as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law since 1998. He’s also served his country in Iraq, fulfilling his National Guard duty as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate from August 2004 to July 2005, and then as Staff Judge Advocate until January 2006. Even the American Bar Association, which often treats conservative judicial nominees unfairly, unanimously gave Judge Southwick the institution’s highest possible rating.
So rather than assail Judge Southwick’s legal competency, Senate Democrats, led primarily by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), are instead attacking Judge Southwick’s character. Ignoring his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity since 1993 and the time he spent as a board member and president of a local Jackson, Miss., charitable organization, Senate Democrats claim that Judge Southwick is racist and anti-homosexual.
The evidence against Judge Southwick? Two decisions he joined while sitting on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Two, and only two, out of the more than 7,000 cases Judge Southwick heard, and in both of these instances, Judge Southwick had no hand in the writing of the rulings.
Fred got something wrong there, actually. Such is the Democratic leadership’s racial demagoguery these days that they’re not actually accusing Southwick of racism; they’re accusing him of the appearance of racism, which disqualifies him to sit on the south’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also isn’t racist but has a prior history of it. Got that? Even by the Dems’ own calculations, there are no actual racist actors here. There’s just a bunch of people who are sort of … “in the ballpark,” which is reason enough to bork him. To quote Chuck Schumer:
Urged by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the AFL-CIO and the Congressional Black Caucus, some Senate Democrats who opposed the nomination made their case nonetheless. They said they didn’t believe he is a bigot, but that the 5th Circuit could not afford a judge who has less than an “exemplary” record on civil rights.
“When it comes to the area of race and racism, we have to bend over backwards,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I certainly don’t think he’s a racist,” Schumer added. “His words have to be seen in context. Like it or not when he’s nominated to the Fifth Circuit he’s carrying 200 and some odd years…on his back. That is the issue here.”
It’s a naked power play on his part, to assert a sort of free-floating veto power over judicial nominees on the flimsiest of pretexts. Here’s the roll. Thank the nine Democrats — including the Kleagle, ironically — who broke with their party to confirm him for refusing to hand Schumer that victory.