Another regressive Bush appointee

By The News Jun 05, 2007

Here’s "An Unacceptable Nominee", an editorial published in NYTimes today that’s worth reading, especially on the back of news that Bush’s recent Surgeon General appointee is an evangelist out to convert gays to heterosexuality… as if Ted Haggard didn’t teach us a thing…

President Bush’s latest appeals court nominee, Leslie Southwick, has a disturbing history of insensitivity to blacks and other minority groups. The Senate should reject this nomination and make clear to the White House that it will reject all future nominees who do not meet the high standards of fairness that are essential for such important posts. 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.

ACT NOW TO OPPOSE Southwick. GO TO: Alliance for Justice.

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.

The sad truth is that the American public appointed president Bush, with and without our votes. Impeachment won’t happen spontaneously. We must call for it!