July 27, 2007

Leslie Southwick: more than qualified

A blogger known only as 'Kyle' has a post over at RightWingWatch (a blog connected to People For the American Way) that attacks the recent letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, signed by more than 60 groups, that urged the Committee to expedite the process of confirming federal judges. Kyle accuses CFJ, along with its fellow organizations united in support of Judge Leslie Southwick (as well as the fair and timely execution of the Judiciary Committee's responsibilities more generally), of making "a series of strikingly hypocritical claims" in this letter.

One point in particular that I'd like to address here is Kyle's own claim that "Normally when it comes to judges, the Right just tends to accuse its opponents of being sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted - so accusations that they are also hostile to our troops is a new, though not surprising, development."

Kyle seems quick to lump together and then dismiss the charges of racism, sexism, and bigotry that members of 'the Right' have leveled against their opponents. But in the case of Judge Leslie Southwick, these charges amount to more than just run-of-the-mill finger-pointing. Absolutely no credible evidence has been produced in support of PFAW's claims that Southwick's record reflects a "lack [of]...commitment to social justice progress". Indeed, the actual specific content of the two cases in Southwick's record most oft-cited by his opponents has been ably described (see, for example, Ed Whelan's analysis here). Furthermore, Southwick's colleagues, former clerks, commanding officer, and long-time associates - those who know him best both personally and professionally - uniformly praise this able jurist for his fair-mindedness, his integrity, and his modesty.

On the basis of all this evidence, to criticize Southwick's opponents for being "hostile to our troops" is not simply to engage in name-calling and finger-pointing for the sake of some petty partisan fight. To defend Southwick is to demand fair treatment for a man whose judicial record as well as character speak for themselves. Leslie Southwick's voluntary military service is not just a convenient talking-point for his defenders; it is yet one more compelling piece of evidence for his selflessness and commitment to service. These qualities, along with his proven record as a superbly well-qualified jurist, surely entitle Judge Southwick to something more than a modicum of our respect - and to a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor for his confirmation to the Fifth Circuit.