Bush's latest controversial judicial nominee.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
June 4 2007 3:25 PM

Headed Southwick?

The case against Bush's latest controversial judicial nominee.

(Continued from Page 1)

Southwick has also waxed fondly about employment at will—the rule that allows employees to be fired for any reason—comparing it to democracy as a system that's not perfect "but just a better one than everything else that has ever been suggested." And he joined a 2001 opinion that called for judges to consider "the homosexual lifestyle" in deciding child-custody cases. None of these cases taken alone would be grounds for voting against him. But taken together, along with his pro-business record, they suggest a judge who is predisposed against the interests of several groups that Democrats are supposed to care about.

Southwick's supporters point out that the American Bar Association has rated Southwick as well-qualified. But both parties in the past have rejected nominees despite that not-so-meaningful endorsement. And it should matter, too, that the vacancy Southwick has been tapped to fill is on the Fifth Circuit, where 11 of  the 15 sitting judges are Republican appointees. Given Southwick's history as a state appellate judge—not just the sound bites, but the overall pattern—why should the Democrats further imbalance an imbalanced federal court by making him into a peace offering?


The larger question about the Senate's role in judicial nominations, of course, is also the more difficult one. Reid is right that there's such a thing as too partisan; the Republicans set that example during the Clinton administration, and the Democrats don't need to repeat it in a game of tit-for-tat. But as Reid himself points out, the Democrats recently confirmed three of Bush's circuit-court nominees. That's some evidence of good faith.

Southwick, on the other hand, looks like evidence that Bush and Lott are reverting to trying to ram through extremely conservative nominees.

When the Republicans controlled the Senate, that was the president's prerogative, and he had something of a mandate from the voters to tilt the courts in his direction. There's no reason the bench should be composed entirely of moderates. But when the opposing party gains control of Congress, that should signal the president—any president—to move closer to the middle. If Bush appears to forget that, then it's up to the Democrats on the judiciary committee to remind him.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How Moscow’s Anti-War March Revealed One of Russia’s Deepest Divides

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 3:33 PM Killing With Kindness My in-laws want to throw me a get-well-from-cancer bash. There’s no way I can go.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 7:46 PM Azealia Banks’ New Single Is Her Best in Years
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide … on Mercury
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.