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.