Alex Blaze

Leslie Southwick approved by Senate

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 25, 2007 2:48 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Diane Feinstein, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Fifth Circuit Court, judges, Leslie Southwick

I didn't have internet access most of yesterday, so I couldn't get this up, but this is a major blow to equal rights and pretty much one of the bigger disappointments with the new Democratically-controlled Congress.

I didn't think that the new Congress would change the world and get everyone to join hands and sing Kumbaya. What I expected was basic competence and a check on the more egregious policies GWB attempts to impose on this country.

But yesterday, the Senate approved, 59-35, Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit Court for a lifetime appointment. So there goes the idea that they would at least prevent crazy judges.

Southwick made a name for himself with homophobia and racism. He joined in a concurring decision to give a child's father full custody in part because his mother was a lesbian that said:

Judge Leslie Southwick participated in a ruling that took an 8-year-old child away from her mother due in part to the mother’s sexual orientation. He joined a concurring opinion fraught with slurs and misinformation about gay people. In fact, the opinion does not even go so far as to acknowledge that there are “gay people,” but rather refers again and again to homosexual lifestyle and sexual practices. And then, quite breezily, the opinion states that while the mother is entitled to her “choice” of “lifestyle,” she must understand that losing her child is a possible consequence.

And representative Eleanor Holmes Norton explains that his judicial background on racial issues shows more than the fact that he thinks it's OK for a worker to call her co-worker the n-word:

“Regrettably, the Southwick nomination passed the Judiciary Committee today as if his approval of the N-word in a court decision he coauthored was his only racial ‘sin’,” remarks Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “In fact, our study of Southwick’s record revealed more systemic issues involving race, such as his rulings in favor of whites alleging improper use of peremptory challenges in criminal cases, but against Blacks making similar allegations. Few cases involving racial slurs come before the federal courts, but our study of Southwick opinions showed ten years of far-right, one-sided rulings against workers and consumers that will hurt many more people of color and average residents of the Fifth Circuit.”

This man should not have a lifetime appointment to any court, much less a highly influential one like the Fifth Circuit.

But that didn't stop 9 Democrats and one Connecticut for Lieberman from voting to approve him. It's interesting how no Republicans switched sides....

Most notably, of course, was Senator Diane Feinstein, who also had a chance to stave this nomination off in committee where she crossed party lines to approve Southwick in their 10-9 decision.

This isn't hard. These aren't really tough calls. And yet we can't even trust our Senate to deliver fair and open-minded judges. Because there just might be a case that goes to the Fifth Circuit court where a queer person is going to have a legitimate grievance and will want someone who doesn't think that she is stuck in a negative lifestyle. But instead she'll get Southwick.


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The sad fact we've all learned these last few weeks, is that some Democrats simply can't be trusted to practice what they preach. This is simply yet another example of that hypocrisy in action.

Supporting LGBT rights is only important to many Dems when they're stumping for our votes, not when we need them to actually stand up for us.

And the most aggravating fact is that the Dems know that we can't do anything about it. We can't punish them; Republicans are no better, so we have no viable alternative to our voting.

That is one of the reasons for why I can't wait for the day where both parties can openly court our votes by offering something positive for our community. Competition is a wonderful thing, but it's sad that we won't be having it for a long time.

bill perdue | October 25, 2007 4:31 PM

Have you noticed any new swelling or bruises on your legs? Any fang marks on your ankles? I ask because it’s the mean season for snakes in the grass. It seems that the Democrats and Republicans are acting a lot more like a herd of angry rattlers.

Gay basher and liberal (but very rich) Democratic house leader Pelosi and the quisling Barney Frank are ramming their toothless version of EHDA through Congress, giving the bosses who want to underpay us just what they want. It’s payback because all but a few reactionaries had the cheek to criticize them for their sellout and worse, it’s an across the board attack on unions, GLBT communities and the rights of all working people.And it deprives transgendered people of their civil rights entirely.

Barak Obama is slithering around imitating Hillary Clinton’s appeals to christian bigots. They’re like liberal (but very rich) John Edwards, a viper who invested his twenty three million dollar plus fortune in a mortgage company that shamelessly forecloses on Katrina victims. (Edwards quit when the NY Times exposed him.) Clinton, Obama and Edwards are not our friends, they’re our enemies.

Another legless reptile in the grass is named Dianne Feinstein. She’s a liberal (but very rich) Democrat whose tawdry backroom deals corralled 10 or so Democrat senators who voted with Bush to seat homobigot and racist Leslie Southwick on the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. He’ll be there ‘til he strokes out, punishing GLBT folk, unions and minorities. Pray that he likes hogmaws ‘n gravy.

Obama will have to slink much further and faster to the right to pilfer Clinton’s bigot supporters. She’s been on the trail courting christians for over a year and it shows in her poll numbers and her draw from bigoted Republicans and christians.

Liberal (but very rich) Hillary Clinton got her early lead because she and Bill Clinton supported the federal DADT and DOMA laws that shoved GLBT folk into second class citizenship. The major candidates of both parties either oppose samesex marriage or take the cowards way out to mollify bigots, a carry over of their decade long support for the DOMA, which was enacted with a bone crushing bipartisan majority of 85-24 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House.

After the Democrats and Republicans voted for DOMA Bill Clinton rushed it into law to attract homobigoted voters in the congressional elections that occurred two weeks later in the fall of '96. Radio spots featuring Clinton trumpeting the sanctity of virtues of heterosex marriage and the dangers of samesex marriage began playing in Southern states immediately after he signed it. The whole thing boomeranged and the Democrats lost anyway but we got DOMA in 36 states.

Most Democrats supported DOMA and those 509 bipartisan Democrat and Republican bigot votes changed our lives for the worse. Keep that in mind when you hear some apologist shilling Democrats are “better” than Republicans.
If you don’t have high boots you’d better get some.

A Republican politician is a baboon in a people suit with a totalitarian christian attached at the hip. A Democratic politician is a Republican in drag. (Except where does that leave Giuliani when he’s in drag – is he a liberal Republican or a rightwing Democrat? It doesn’t matter; they all oppose same sex marriage.)

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | October 26, 2007 9:26 PM

As well as on DiFi, who was clearly the hingepin in her ability to block the nomination in committee, the spotlight must be turned upon Harry Reid, who well-placed sources have said was solidly in control of this one, actively permitting it to move forward.

There's a line between collegiality and subborning active bigotry that is a form of knowing violation of equal access to the law -- in other words, there's a line between collegiality and a Senator's oath of office. A vote to confirm Southwick, in my opinion, crosses it.

As I write, I'm watching Bill Moyers' NOW's broadcast of Barbara Jordan's famous Judiciary impeachment hearing speech on loyalty to the Constitution -- her whole cloth speech. I can't get out of my mind the failings of the current crop on everything from illegal torture to illegal war to judge after judge who clearly has little to no regard for the law if by that we mean an equal and just application of it.

We are living through fascism and precious few on the Hill are not guilty of complicity in it.

Fascism does not walk through the door announcing itself whole and parking itself in the central square handing out triangles right off. It creeps in, piece by piece until it has dismantled the means to stop it from within short of civil war.

And make no mistake about it, we have not yet progressed past mine canary status, either.