We urge you to vote against the confirmation of Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The Fifth Circuit has more residents of color than any other circuit and frequently hears critical civil rights cases. It is especially important, therefore, that a nominee to this court has an unwavering commitment to equal justice and a willingness to protect the rights women, LGBT, people of color, workers and consumers.
Instead, Judge Southwick has compiled a stark and lengthy record of rejecting the claims of people of color and siding with business interests against workers and consumers.
Judge Southwick was criticized by a member of his own court in Mississippi for having a double standard in cases involving racial discrimination in jury selection. And, in one especially egregious case, Judge Southwick trivialized an employee\'s use of the "n" word in the workplace and voted to reinstate her employment.
Moreover, Judge Southwick has an 89 percent record of voting against workers, consumers and other victims in divided decisions. In 160 out of 180 published decisions involving state employment law and torts cases in which at least two judges dissented, Judge Southwick voted against the injured party and in favor of business interests, such as corporations or insurance companies.
At his confirmation hearing, Senator Durbin (D-Il) asked Judge Southwick to give an example of a time when he\'d made an unpopular decision in favor of "the little guy" -- a poor person, a person of color, or someone who had turned to the courts for help. Judge Southwick couldn\'t name a single one.
While on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Judge Southwick not only joined the majority ruling that took custody of an eight year-old girl away from her bisexual mother, but he also went out of his way to join a concurrence that went further than the majority opinion. It stated that the "choice" to engage in homosexuality comes with consequences, up to and including the consideration of "the homosexual lifestyle" as a determining factor in child custody cases. No other judge joined this remarkably homophobic concurrence.
At his hearing, senators questioned Judge Southwick extensively about the case, but he refused to distance himself from the opinion. Senator Whitehouse asked why Judge Southwick felt the need to subscribe to this superfluous concurring opinion that used "unnecessary terminology." Judge Southwick responded that the concurring opinion better stated the "public policy in Mississippi at the time regarding homosexuality."
Do not confirm Judge Southwick. He has not shown himself to be the kind of judge fit for a lifetime seat on the federal bench.
Californians for Fair and Independent Judges
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