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Southwick deserves vote over court nomination

Senate Democrats have gotten two strikes against President Bushduring his lengthy at bat to try and appoint a judge to the 5thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now they hope their opposition to retired Mississippi Court ofAppeals Judge Leslie Southwick will be the third strike and Bushwill be out of office before he gets to nominate another candidate.Perhaps they hope to stall until after 2008, when possibly a newDemocratic batter can hit a home run in trying to fill the courtvacancy that has existed since 1999.

First, Senate Democrats cried foul over retired Judge CharlesPickering and then over Jackson lawyer Mike Wallace. The same isdone being done to Southwick now.

Frankly, the gamesmanship and outright politics being playedover the court nomination is ridiculous and disgusting.

The size of the 5th Circuit – which includes Texas, Louisianaand Mississippi – and the length of the vacancy have created a casebacklog of more than 1,400 cases. Legal experts consider that ajudicial emergency.

But Senate Democrats and their supporters continue to stall thenomination process by cherry-picking cases that suggest Southwickis racially insensitive. Southwick’s nomination cannot get out ofthe Senate Judiciary Committee because of all the stallingtactics.

Frustrated over the lack of progress, Republicans last weekthreatened to play some hardball of their own by using proceduralmoves and other methods to hold up work in the Senate. They say afull Senate vote on the Southwick nomination is simply a matter offairness.

The Republicans are right. The real umpires in this contestshould be all the members of the Senate.

Let the Judiciary Committee vote out its recommendation and thenlet the full Senate decide Southwick’s fate. We believe a full andfair evaluation of Southwick’s record will see him confirmed to thecourt bench.

Then, the Senate can quit playing games over the court vacancyand let the judges start swinging away at the district’s backlog ofcases.