"Just like Pickering and Wallace before him, Southwick appears ready and willing to turn back the clock on fifty years of social justice progress in our nation," Ralph Neas said... Judge Leslie Southwick and the Lamentable Loop of Liberal Lies

The more the judicial nominees change, the more the liberal lies remain the same.

Unfortunately, that is the lamentable lesson being learned by Mississippi Judge Leslie Southwick as the President's third nominee to fill a long-standing vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

More than six years ago, just four months after President George W. Bush occupied the Oval Office, another distinguished Mississippian, Judge Charles W. Pickering Jr., was the first to be named to fill the open federal appellate seat.  But in targeting the nomination, not only did the Left turn what should have been a proud moment for the respected jurist into a never ending nightmare, the liberals also learned that their loop of lies could lynch even the most qualified and well supported candidate.

Judge Pickering was just such a legal luminary and modest magistrate — just like the current nominee, Judge Southwick.  By the time of Judge Pickering's nomination to the federal appeals court, he had already served on the federal bench for more than a decade.  Before that, Judge Pickering represented his fellow citizens in the Mississippi state legislature for eight years.  Indeed, the American Bar Association — whose ratings had always been consistently touted as the "gold standard" — rated Judge Pickering "well qualified" for elevation.

Judge Pickering's nomination was also supported by several past leaders of the NAACP in Mississippi, and one of his strongest supporters was Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

None of that mattered to the Left though.  What the liberals saw was a political target of opportunity — a judge whose rulings could be twisted, whose reputation could be slandered and whose character could be maligned.  And, so it came, a campaign of insinuations, half-truths and flat-out lies, first fabricated and then foisted as fact by the Left.

The attacks were not only unconscionable but quite unbelievable.  In a single seven-paragraph "fact" sheet put out by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Judge Pickering was accused of "showing disdain for plaintiffs in race discrimination suits," "help[ing] perpetuate voting discrimination against African-Americans," and "show[ing] remarkable sympathy for cross-burners" — doing all of the above from his seat on the federal bench.

Of course, as a sitting jurist Judge Pickering couldn't respond in kind or even correct the record, though his supporters attempted to point the media, politicians, and the public to the real facts and the actual truth.  But the loop of liberal lies never stopped, and the steady charge that Judge Pickering "demonstrate[d] insensitivity and even hostility toward" civil rights and "would turn back the clock" eventually stuck, forcing the judge to accept only a recess appointment and an early end to his judicial career.

Next up for the seat was Mississippi attorney Michael B. Wallace, who endured a repeat performance of the Left's lynching.  Despite sterling credentials, which included clerkships with a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court and then-Justice William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as later being a partner at one of the largest and most respected law firms in Mississippi, the Left painted Wallace as a political hack willing to do the Republican Party's legal bidding.

Since practice makes perfect, again the liberal charge was that Wallace wanted to "turn back the clock" on civil rights.  The Left claimed Wallace's career had been spent marginalizing or even disenfranchising the poorest and least powerful in his community — never mind that Wallace had served as a board member of the Legal Services Corporation, promoting access to lawyers, the court, and justice for the very same poor and powerless citizens that the liberals accused Wallace of working against.  The loop of liberal lies took even less time to stick on this second go around, and Wallace's nomination was gone in less than a year.

Just six months ago, President Bush nominated Judge Southwick, a third Mississippian, for the Fifth Circuit seat.  And, as if on cue, the Left began playing its loop of lies again.

"Just like Pickering and Wallace before him, Southwick appears ready and willing to turn back the clock on fifty years of social justice progress in our nation," Ralph Neas said in a press release for the People for the American Way.  "Southwick's record predicts that those in the 5th Circuit have much to fear regarding their legal rights," wrote Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice, in an op-ed.

This third time, however, the mainstream media and one Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat isn't biting down on the liberal lies hook, line and sinker.  In an editorial headlined "Qualified to Serve: The opponents of appeals court nominee Leslie H. Southwick haven't made their case," the Washington Post concluded, "we cannot find fault with Judge Southwick's ... ultimately legitimate interpretation of the law ..., and we do not find in his record the ... caricature his opponent have drawn."  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) reached the same conclusion, and then voted to send Judge Southwick's nomination to the floor for a long-overdue up-or-down vote on a judicial nominee for this federal appellate seat.

It's about time.

August 23, 2007
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