To discern the real political story behind Senate Democrats’ failure to move out of committee the nomination of Leslie H. Southwick to the Fifth Circuit, consider these facts:
1. Southwick is amply qualified to serve as a Fifth Circuit judge. Even the ABA judicial-evaluations committee unanimously gave him its highest “well qualified” rating. He served for 11 years as a Mississippi appellate judge; he was a senior Justice Department official in the Bush 41 Administration; he’s been an adjunct professor of law for a decade; and he has two decades of experience in private practice. So far as I’m aware, no one who knows him has a bad word to say about him, and lots have glowing praise.
2. Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Southwick’s nomination to serve as a federal district judge. (Southwick did not receive a floor vote on that nomination, and President Bush nominated him to the Fifth Circuit when Democrats obstructed the Fifth Circuit nomination of Michael B. Wallace.)
3. Leading Senate Democrats cleared Southwick for the Fifth Circuit nomination. According to Senator Specter, majority leader Harry Reid promised minority leader McConnell that Southwick would receive a Senate floor vote before the Memorial Day recess. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Leahy likewise assured Specter that the committee would approve the nomination before that recess.
4. Then People for the American Way launched its utterly baseless smear campaign against Southwick, and PFAW’s puppets in the Senate reneged on their promises and did PFAW’s bidding.
In short, the real story here is that Senate Democrats kowtow to their reckless crazies on the Left, even at the expense of according minimally decent treatment to an American hero. This is a disgraceful story that President Bush and Senate Republicans need to make sure the American people know.