Judge Southwick as “super-precedent”

I’ve written here and here about the smear tactics being employed by Senate Democrats as they continue to block Judge Leslie Southwick, President Bush’s nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Centrist legal analyst Stuart Taylor has noticed too.
As Taylor explains, Southwick has a distinguished record and “wins high praise from Democrats, African-Americans, and others who know him.” In addition, Southwick “wears a distinctive badge of courageous service to his country.” He joined the Army Reserve in 1992, at age 42, and volunteered in 2003 to transfer into a Mississippi National Guard combat unit that would soon be sent overseas. He was on active duty in Iraq (and on leave from his judgeship) from August 2004 to January 2006.
Southwick’s nomination received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, and he won unanimous, bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee approval late last year. Things turned sour only after liberal special interest groups raised baseless claims that his judicial record shows him to be a racist (or racially insensitive) and a homophobe.
I deal with the “racism” charge in the links above. Taylor easily dispatches the “homeophobe” allegations. He concludes:

It’s fair to infer from the 2001 decision that Southwick seems less committed to equal rights for gay people than many (including me) would like. But it hardly shows him to be a homophobe. Indeed, he was deferring to a state legislative policy that was consistent with existing Supreme Court precedent.

Taylor is concerned that the groundless obstruction of Southwick’s nomination by Democrats will “provide their Republican adversaries with new precedents and excuses for a campaign to obstruct the next Democratic president’s liberal nominees, no matter how well qualified.” Republicans, of course, already have plenty of precedents. If the Democrats don’t change course, we can treat the Southwick affair as “super-precedent.”
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