It is difficult to envision a weaker rationale for sliming this honorable man. Obstructionist Senate Democrats Throw Iraq War Veteran Under the Bus

What Was That About "Opposing the War but Supporting the Troops?" 

Anti-war liberals persistently - but implausibly - protest that they "support the troops" despite hysterically opposing the war effort itself. 

Well, now Senate Democrats, most of whom fall within the anti-war description, have a chance to put their money where their mouth is.  Unfortunately, they are instead exposing the absurdity of their claim. 

The occasion for this revelation is the obstructed nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick, a remarkable man who left his position as judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals to volunteer for action in Iraq with the Mississippi Army National Guard.  To enlist, he even had to first obtain an age waiver allowing him to join, even though he realized that his advanced age would prohibit him from serving enough years to vest a military pension. 

Even more courageously, Judge Southwick intentionally transferred in 2003 from a non-combat unit into the 155th Separate Armor Brigade, a line combat unit that was nearly certain to mobilize for a tour in Iraq.  Sure enough, the 155th mobilized for duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom near Najaf in August 2004. 

Judge Southwick proceeded to serve on active duty from that date to January 2006, at which time he transferred back to Joint Force Headquarters in the Mississippi National Guard.  For his service, he received a letter of highest accolades from Major General Harold A. Cross, the Adjutant General of Mississippi. 

This is precisely the type of sacrifice of which all Americans should be proud, recalling President Kennedy's inaugural words, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." 

After returning from duty in Iraq, Judge Southwick was quickly nominated to the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Bush on January 9, 2007.  Soon thereafter, Senate Democrats privately assured their Republican counterparts that they would not obstruct Judge Southwick, and would allow a fair and full Senate vote. 

In fact, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D - Vermont) gave Senator Arlen Specter (R - Pennsylvania) his word that Judge Southwick would emerge from the Judiciary Committee by a voice vote, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D - Nevada) promised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R - Kentucky) that Judge Southwick would receive a floor vote before the Memorial Day recess this past May. 

So much for the value of these Democratic Senators' commitments.   

Predictably, several left-wing special interest groups commenced a slur campaign against Judge Southwick in their effort to keep yet another strict constructionist judge off the federal bench. 

Outrageously, part of the opposition appears to be race-based.  The NAACP and the Magnolia Bar Association baldly alleged a "fail[ure] to ameliorate the lack of diversity in the Circuit and on Mississippi's federal bench," and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D - Vermont) recommended that President Bush withdraw Judge Southwick's nomination and instead nominate an African-American.  This behavior accords with previous behavior by Senate Democrats, who have attempted to block every single one of the seven white male Southerners whom President Bush has nominated for federal appellate courts. 

Some might be inclined to suspect that these special interest groups must have something substantive on which to base their opposition.  But such a presumption would be wrong. 

Rather, the opposition focuses primarily upon merely two cases - out of over 7,000 while on the bench - in which Judge Southwick participated.  In one case, he simply joined a concurrence in which another judge used the phrase "homosexual lifestyle."  Although left-wing special interest groups now claim that this is somehow an improper term, President Clinton himself used it when announcing his policy on homosexuals in the military in 1993.  Furthermore, that very term has been used in 73 court decisions written by both Democratic and Republican appointees throughout the country. 

It is difficult to envision a weaker rationale for sliming this honorable man. 

The second alleged transgression was a case in which Judge Southwick merely joined a majority decision that itself simply affirmed another state administrative agency's decision that a public employee's use of a racial slur, standing alone, did not necessarily mandate termination of her employment. 

Again, in neither case did Judge Southwick even write the opinion, even if either was somehow inappropriate. 

It must be further noted that Judge Southwick received a unanimous "Well-Qualified" rating from the American Bar Association (ABA), hardly a redoubt of conservative or even moderate thought. 

To make matters worse, a critical shortage of judges exists on the Fifth Circuit.  The non-partisan Administrative Office of the Courts has designated the vacancy to which Judge Southwick has been nominated as a "Judicial Emergency," and that Circuit has one of the highest filing rates in the entire country. 

Regardless, what message do Senate Democrats think they're sending when they subject an admirable war veteran like Judge Southwick to such a manufactured and despicable campaign of personal destruction?  Clearly, there is no limit to their compliance in carrying water for far-left interest groups and obstructing judicial nominees. 

Every American should be outraged by Senate Democrats' shameful treatment of a heroic Iraq war veteran who sacrificed so much to serve his country, and contact Senators to express that outrage.  Only immediate action, and vociferous support of those Senators who will stand up for Judge Southwick and demand a floor vote before the entire Senate, can prevent this shameful injustice from succeeding. 

July 20, 2007
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