Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fight over Bush's Latest Racist Court Appointee Looms

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights reports that Bush's latest appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is no better than previous appointees Charles Pickering and Michael Wallace who were so controversial they failed to win Senate confirmation when Republicans held power.

Leslie Southwick is the latest appointee. And his record reads more like that of a plantation owner in pre-Civil War Mississippi than a presiding judge in a democratic society.

While sitting as an appellate judge in Mississippi, Southwick once ruled to reinstate a white state employee who used the n-word to describe an African American co-worker. Apparently Southwick accepted the testimony of one witness who described the use of the racial slur as akin to calling the Black person a "teacher's pet." Southwick is said to have adopted the view that the use of the racial slur was “a good ole [“n” word].” Southwick was unanimously overruled by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Southwick has joined in anti-gay decisions purely on his personal view of "morality" and even when the decision went against Mississippi laws. He has been accused of attempting to establish unfair burdens for African American defendants who objected to eliminating jurors because they are African Americans, while not holding prosecutors to the same standard when defense lawyers eliminated white jurors. Southwick has sided with big business or insurance companies in 160 of 180 cases over injured parties in lawsuits.

Bush's appointment of Southwick is clearly an appeal to racist and pro-big business elements. If appointed, Southwick would hold this position for life. He would be in line for appointment by a future Republican president to the Supreme Court, where the damage he could do is unimaginable.

Let's not go back to the Jim Crow era. Alert your Senator about your views on Southwick. Find out more information and how to contact your Senators with your disapproval of Southwick here.

--Joel Wendland

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