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Judge Leslie Southwick and the Democrats’ bigot card; Update: Harry Reid invokes hanging nooses; Update Smear merchants fail – Motion to invoke cloture passes 62-35; Update: Nomination confirmed, 59-38

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 24, 2007 10:38 AM

Update 11:43am Eastern The nomination is confirmed, 59-38.

Update 11:35am Eastern. The final vote on confirmation is now underway. Stand by.

Update 11:27am Eastern. Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and the smear merchants have failed. The motion to invoke cloture passes 62-35.

The Associated Press’s take:

Judge Leslie Southwick’s nomination to a federal appeals court in Mississippi cleared a key hurdle in the Senate Wednesday and headed toward confirmation, despite questions during debate about his racial sensitivity.

The Senate’s 62-35 test tally cleared the 60-vote threshold for ending debate and proceeding to a final roll call on confirmation.

The question of whether to send the law professor, judge and Iraq war veteran to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tested a fragile agreement in the Senate to block the president’s judicial nominees only in extraordinary circumstances. Some Democratic opponents, backed by the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP Legal Defense fund and the AFL-CIO, said some of Southwick’s writings met that standard. But Democrats said they did not have the votes to filibuster, or block, Southwick’s nomination.

Southwick’s supporters, who include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the controversy wasn’t so much about Southwick as it was about the fact that he is a white man nominated to sit on a court that handles cases in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The history of the civil rights struggle shadowed Senate debate.

No, the Democrats’ history of demagogic race-hustling poisoned the debate. Fortunately, they did not prevail yet.

10:54am Eastern. Oh, crikey. Harry Reid is indignantly laundry-listing Republican attacks on liberal judges who were “maligned personally for political gain.” The Democrats, of course, would never do such a thing! In a split second, Reid then proceeds to talk about hanging nooses to justify his opposition to the Southwick nomination.

***

I have to remember not to eat breakfast before tuning in to C-SPAN. It’s dangerous to listen to the Democrats’ rhetoric on a full stomach. Right now, there’s a Senate cloture vote debate on the judicial nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick, who is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

In a nutshell:

The high-stakes vote comes after two earlier nominees from Mississippi, former U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering and Jackson attorney and Biloxi native Michael Wallace, ran into stiff opposition from liberal activists for their civil rights records.

Southwick has drawn the same criticism, but was able to win over Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when the panel approved his nomination in August.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who has taken a lead role in promoting Southwick’s nomination, was upbeat about the outlook for securing the 60 votes needed today to defeat a filibuster. The so-called cloture vote would allow the Senate to vote on the nomination. The vote would then follow, with only a majority required for approval. “He’s hopeful this is good timing,” said Cochran spokesperson Margaret McPhillips.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., was involved in some last-minute negotiations Tuesday with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a Southwick supporter who is trying to broker a deal between Democrats and Republicans. Nelson was trying to persuade Democrats to support the procedural cloture vote in order to let the nomination have an up-or-down vote. In return, Republicans would agree not to block spending bills.

“He’s reasonably confident that he can get the 60 votes needed for cloture,” said Nelson spokesman David DeMartino. Southwick supporters calculate they need 11 Democrats and 9 Republicans to reach the 60-vote margin.

Charles Schumer, self-admitted idiot, just finished smearing Judge Southwick as a racial bigot over his vote in this employment decision involving a white worker who referred to a co-worker as a “good ole nigger.” Here’s the case PDF. The far-left People for the American Way has Southwick in its crosshairs.

Here is a non-hysterical look at that case. And here’s more non-unhinged background from ConfirmThem.com:

PFAW says that:

In 1998, Southwick joined a ruling in an employment case that upheld the reinstatement, without any punishment whatsoever, of a white state employee who was fired for calling an African American co-worker a “good ole nigger.” The court’s decision effectively ratified a hearing officer’s opinion that the slur was only “somewhat derogatory” and “was in effect calling the individual a ‘teacher’s pet.’” The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision.

Here is what the Mississippi Supreme Court actually said:

The case in question arose out of a single use of a racial slur. Varrie Richmond, the person in which the word was used in reference to, seemingly accepted the apology offered by Bonnie Richmond and did not feel it necessary to report the incident to her superiors. We find that Bonnie Richmond’s use of the slur on a single occasion does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment. See Vaughn v. Pool Offshore Co., 683 F.2d 922 (5th Cir. 1982). Therefore, the unique circumstances of this case do not warrant imposition of the ultimate penalty of dismissal of Bonnie Richmond from her employment with the DHS.

However, the Hearing Officer made no finding that DHS did not act in accordance with the published rules of the State Personnel Board or the decision was not allowed under the guidelines. In addition, the EAB erred by not making sufficient findings on the record as to why there should be no penalty. This is contrary to the holdings of the Court in Johnson, McClee, and Holly, discussed previously herein. We therefore remand the present case to the EAB in order for the board to impose an appropriate penalty less than dismissal, or to make detailed findings as to why no penalty should be imposed.

In other words, this reversal was purely procedural. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Southwick’s lower court that Bonnie Richmond did not commit a firing offense, and said that perhaps no legal penalty at all was required beyond the apology. (Southwick testified at his Senate hearing that he might have upheld a lesser penalty if the parties had raised that issue.) In any event, PFAW continues to distort this Mississippi Supreme Court decision, saying that this case indicates Southwick is “ready and willing to turn back the clock on fifty years of social justice progress in our nation.” What nonsense.

Stay tuned for the vote.

***

Related: Schumer accused the 5th Circuit of being a “cauldron” of racism and bigotry, perfectly in line with the Left’s narrative of the South as an unrepentant field of bigotry and ignorance. Ed Lasky at The American Thinker counters that narrative today in an excellent essay, “The South Rises.”

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