Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has just offered, as an amendment to legislation pending on the Senate floor (and with Senator Specter’s support), a Sense of the Senate resolution that Judge Leslie Southwick’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit “should receive a vote by the full Senate.” I’m no expert on the intricacies of Senate floor procedures, but a couple Senate staffers whose judgment I trust are optimistic that the Sense of the Senate resolution will be voted on.
On the merits, Southwick’s attackers have zero ammunition. Their primary advantage is their ability to keep the nomination a low-profile matter and thus to minimize the political costs of their obstruction. The McConnell/Specter amendment seems a smart move (if only a first step) to raise the nomination’s profile and to put pressure on the Senate Judiciary Committee to report the nomination to the full Senate. Kudos to McConnell and Specter.