Bench Memos

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Committee Vote on Southwick Nomination


The Senate Judiciary Committee vote on President Bush’s nomination of longtime Mississippi judge Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit is set to take place at today’s 10:00 mark-up. 

Former Mississippi supreme court justice James L. Robertson has sent a letter to the committee in support of Southwick.  Robertson (who makes clear that he is well-known as someone who is not a supporter of President Bush and who says that he voted for Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004) praises Southwick across the board.  He specifically says that he is “outraged” at the New York Times’s “cheap shot editorial” against Southwick, and he avers that “there is not a hint of racism in Judge Southwick’s being.”  Indeed, on this latter point, Robertson states that he is “certain” that Southwick’s two longtime African-American judicial colleagues “would be the first to tell you this”—that is, that there is not a hint of racism in Southwick—if they were not prohibited by state judicial rules from providing such endorsements. 

The Wall Street Journal also offers its take on the ridiculously weak case against Southwick.  An excerpt: 

The flimsy pretext for stopping Judge Southwick suggests that the judicial left has decided to browbeat Democrats into blocking nearly all Bush appellate nominees. They’re hoping to retake the White House in 2008 and want everyone to forget that the current President still has 19 months in office. Only three Bush appointees have been approved this year, and there are currently five nominees for 13 vacancies. At this pace, the confirmation rate won’t come close to the 15 appeals-court nominees approved by a GOP Senate during Bill Clinton’s last two years.


Judiciary Democrats aren’t saying how they’ll vote today, but Republicans believe they have the votes to confirm if Judge Southwick’s nomination gets to the Senate floor. If the judge loses–or if he’s approved in committee and then denied an up-or-down vote on the floor–you’ll know Ralph Neas is running the confirmation asylum.


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