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Speaking of Senator Whitehouse . . .

He faces a big Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Thursday, on the nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those offering reasons for a "no" vote include RI's Future, Marriage Equality Rhode Island, and the New York Times:

President Bush’s latest appeals court nominee, Leslie Southwick, has a disturbing history of insensitivity to blacks and other minority groups. The Senate should reject this nomination and make clear to the White House that it will reject all future nominees who do not meet the high standards of fairness that are essential for such important posts.

A non-negotiable quality for judicial nominees is that they must be committed to equal justice. Judge Southwick, whom President Bush has nominated for a seat on the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, repeatedly failed this test as a Mississippi state court judge.

He clearly failed the test when he ruled for a social worker who was rightfully fired for calling a black colleague “a good ole nigger.” Judge Southwick is known for siding with employers over employees — but not in this case. In his ruling, he revealed a thorough lack of understanding of the odious impact of such language when he accepted the social worker’s claim that the use of the slur was “not motivated out of racial hatred or animosity directed toward her co-worker or toward blacks in general.” Judge Southwick did not even vote to direct the state to consider a penalty short of firing, as the Mississippi Supreme Court later did.

Whitehouse spokeswoman Alex Swartsel tells me she has not had a chance to ask the senator about his pending vote, and she says she is looking into it. I will post an update when I hear back from her.

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