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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 02, 2007

 
Here comes another one
by Dover Bitch

Just two weeks ago, we read this chapter in the closing-the-barn-door-too-late saga of the Bush years:

"Many of us feel very badly burned because of what both Justice Alito and Justice Roberts told us about their belief in stare decisis," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member who voted against both nominees. "So we will be very very cautious with respect to the next nominee — very cautious."


Feinstein supported a filibuster of Alito, after initially opposing it. She seems, from her votes and the above statement, to understand that Bush's nominees are willing to say anything to get a lifetime appointment to the nation's top courts. And, once there, they promptly go to work dismantling the progress America has made towards equal justice.

When Bush narrowly won reelection and the GOP controlled Congress, they were quick to throw the word "mandate" around. Today, Congress is completely in Democratic control and the president is as unpopular as any in history. One would think that his nominees would be more reflective of the nation as a whole. At a minimum, one would think that the nominee would be representative of the state from which he or she hails.

But it's George W. Bush we're talking about so, naturally, the nominee the Senate Judiciary Committee considered today is Leslie Southwick, Bush's third choice for the Fifth Circuit Court. His first two picks for this seat -- Charles Pickering and Michael B. Wallace -- didn't make it out of committee.

If the Republicans want to take advantage of their opportunity to fill these seats, they should have to present candidates that don't just satisfy the National Review and Wall St. Journal editorial boards. Especially in light of the fact that there's a distinct possibility that the next president will be a Democrat.

Here's what kind of move to the middle Bush was willing to make:

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.


At the confirmation hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin asked Southwick for an example of when he stepped up to defend the powerless and he couldn't think of a single example. Today, Durbin revealed that he, in fairness, asked Southwick for an answer in writing, to give the nominee time to think of a good example. Again, Southwick was unable to think of a single episode.

The "Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Magnolia Bar Association, Mississippi NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Society of American Law Teachers, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way among others" have all expressed their opposition to Southwick's nomination.

But Sen. Feinstein had a meeting with Southwick and he assured her that he is "not outside the mainstream." Despite her promise to be "very, very cautious" with Bush's nominees, Feinstein voted with the unanimous GOP to send Southwick's nomination to the Senate for a vote. When she announced her vote, she conceded that she "could be wrong" and that "maybe" she's been wrong before.

This president and his nominees have zero credibility on civil rights and most other issues. Why is Feinstein trusting them now?



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