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.


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked
The Vault
Oct. 23 2014 12:02 PM Delightfully Awkward Studio Action Shots of Players, Used on Early Baseball Cards
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 12:01 PM Who Is Constantine, and Should You Watch His New Show?
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.