If Sen. Schumer’s abuse of the judicial confirmation processes continue, it’s pretty obvious that no judges will be confirmed unless they are ideological liberals. Now, in the case of Judge Leslie Southwick, it’s not even clear that they will stop at that. Yes, Southwick is a conservative. But Senate Democrats may be giving in to stop his confirmation because he served in the Iraq War.
Judge Leslie Southwick was a state appellate judge for 11 years, has 20 years experience in private practice and served in the Justice Department of Bush 41. Rated "unanimously well-qualified" by the American Bar Association, he has been nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Judge Southwick sought an age waiver to serve in the military, and at age 54 requested to be sent to one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, where he admirably helped Iraqis working to establish a free nation.
Last year the Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination to a federal district-court seat. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy assured Republican leaders that Southwick would be confirmed by Memorial Day.
But in the meantime, liberal groups smeared Judge Southwick with unfounded accusations. A few Democrat senators are repeating them.
First, the criticism from liberal senators is taken straight from the homosexual group Human Rights Campaign and People for the American Way. Despite nearly 7,000 cases Judge Southwick ruled on during 12 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, his critics found only two opinions to condemn.
One involved a state employee’s one-time use of the "n-word." Southwick joined in an opinion denouncing the use of the word. However, recognizing the limits of the law, the court ruled that the state cannot apply an “arbitrary, across-the-board rule” in determining how to discipline that employee. In an act that could define judicial integrity, the court based its ruling on the law, not on what may be politically correct. For this, detractors call him "racist."
Judge Southwick’s deeds speak louder than the slurs against him. LaVerne Ednae, an African-American attorney in a prominent Mississippi law firm, stated that Judge Southwick gave her an opportunity as a law clerk when few would. She said, “He saw that I was qualified for the position and granted me the opportunity. … It did not matter the party’s affiliation, culture or stature. What mattered is what the law said, and Judge Southwick worked very hard to apply it fairly. I have no doubt that he is fair, impartial and has all of the other qualities necessary to be an excellent addition to the Fifth Circuit.”
Judge Southwick’s critics’ second complaint is that he joined in a decision in which the court used the term “homosexual lifestyle.” Yet Bill Clinton used the phrase “homosexual lifestyle” while announcing his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred with the majority decision in Lawrence v. Texas which addressed the “homosexual lifestyle.”
And that’s all they have. Two flimsy arguments that don’t stand up to scrutiny. Which makes one wonder if there is more to this.
The answer may come most clearly in a frank admission from a critic. In response to an article on Judge Southwick, a respondent wrote:
“There is a larger issue here than whether or not Southwick is qualified or “deserves” to be on the court. The fact is that Democrats in the Senate simply cannot reward a man who jumped at the chance to go play a part in Bush’s War. I would argue that his qualifications – top ABA ratings, etc. – make it all the more important to not confirm him. Let the Senators opposing him use whatever public excuse they want – so long as they understand that this is a vote about the war – and that those who fueled the Bush war machine need to be punished – not given promotions.”
The anti-war crowd claims they “support the troops”. But this smacks of the reprehensible treatment that Vietnam War veterans received from anti-war activists.
A friend of mine who served in Vietnam walked through the street in his uniform when he returned home. He was greeted with shouts of “baby killer”. Others report that veterans were spit upon. Today’s anti-war crowd is more sophisticated. They seek to destroy the reputations and careers of those who volunteered to serve America as a protest against the war.
Judge Southwick is a brave, considerate, intelligent American hero – just the type of person that we need on the federal bench. Yet liberal special interest groups have unfairly smeared a good man for doing his constitutional duty of upholding the law and serving in the war.
Democrat senators are following their lead in a modern-day version of spitting on the reputation of this honorable judge and Iraq war veteran. Is this what other Iraq War veterans will face when they return home? Will their sacrifice, courage and honor be besmirched by people who put their political interests above the welfare of our country?
Judge Southwick deserves to be confirmed. The fact that his nomination is opposed by groups that rely on judicial activism to institute preferences over equal justice and seek to punish him for being an Iraq War veteran should be enough to understand what is really going on. There could not be a clearer contrast than between those who use despicable means to keep the judicial branch as a haven for activists, and those who honorably sacrifice to serve the law and their country.