Where Is the Senate Outrage over Southwick?


Contact: Josh Glasstetter or Drew Courtney at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Judicial Nominee Heads for Committee Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this Thursday on the nomination of former Mississippi Court of Appeals judge Leslie Southwick to a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way, cited Southwick’s troubling record on the rights of African Americans, gays and lesbians, and workers, and today urged Democratic and Republican Senators to come out forcefully against the nomination prior to the vote.

He made the following statement:

“Leslie Southwick upheld the reinstatement with back pay of a white worker after she had been fired for using the single most offensive racial epithet, calling a black colleague a ‘good ole nigger.’ In the wake of heightened racial sensitivity engendered by the Don Imus imbroglio, it’s amazing that there is so little outrage over the unbelievably insensitive position taken by a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.”

Letters of opposition to Southwick’s confirmation:

“In another case, he agreed that an eight-year-old girl could be taken away from her birth mother, in large part because the mother was living with another woman in a ‘lesbian home.’ Southwick went even further, joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence suggesting that he believes sexual orientation is a ‘choice,’ and that one legally acceptable consequence of that ‘choice’ is losing one’s child.”

“Today we read that Senator Barack Obama is opposing the nomination. Bravo. My question is, why is Senator Obama’s voice the only senatorial voice we have heard? I urge other senators to come out forcefully today to object to this nomination, and to urge their Republican and Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to reject it.

“Last November, the American people voted for change. Change does not include rubber-stamping George W. Bush’s federal court nominees, and giving them lifetime seats on the federal bench. In fact, that’s one way to ensure that the legacy of the Bush administration far outlasts his term. Elections matter.”

The nomination is opposed by a coalition of civil rights organizations. Read PFAW’s letter of opposition here; the Magnolia Bar Association’s letter of opposition here; the Human Rights Campaign letter of opposition here; the NAACP’s letter of opposition is here; and the AFL-CIO’s letter of opposition is here.