A Senate attempt to filibuster the confirmation of Judge Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals failed this morning, with a vote of 62-35. The Congressional Black Caucus, led by Representative Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (D-MI), together with leading civil rights, women’s rights, and gay and lesbian rights groups held a press conference before the vote in strong opposition to the confirmation of Southwick.
Southwick “has routinely displayed his indifference to fairness…(his) record on women, workforce development, gender equity and civil rights issues make him unworthy of such a lifetime position,” Kilpatrick stated.
Representative Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-TX) said “the line has been drawn in sand on this nomination.” In an infamous case Southwick, while a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals for 10 years, cast a deciding vote saying using the “n” word was not discriminatory in the workplace ‘ rather he chose to decide the case to reinstate a white state employee who used the racial slur on a narrow legal technicality.
The groups protested his consistent deciding for corporations instead of workers. In two cases of particular interest to women, Southwick argued that a nursing home patient who had been sexually assaulted by another resident had suffered no damages, and that a women who shot her abusive boyfriend should be charges with murder, not manslaughter. In another case that causes concern, Southwick voted to deprive a mother of her child’s custody because of involvement in a same-sex relationship.
The Fifth Federal Circuit Court includes Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Only one of 17 seats on the Fifth Circuit is currently held by an African American.