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Groups Work For/against Judicial Nominee Southwick

Ok, we realize Leslie Southwick is not the first thing on the mind of many Crypt readers. So, for a quick recap: He's a man. He’s the president’s pick for a circuit court vacancy in Mississippi. And his nomination has been on a low simmer for months as liberals and conservatives spar over his record.

Now it looks like the fight is heating up a bit.

Anticipating a vote, possibly as early as this week, a loose coalition of conservative groups, including Focus on the Family and the Republican National Lawyers Association, is asking members to call Democratic senators from swing states. The targets, according to Committee for Justice executive director Curt Levey, include Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The message: Here is a guy (Southwick) who took a leave from his job (as a state appeals court judge) to serve in Iraq (as a judge advocate general), so give him an up or down vote in the Senate.

The other side is targeting Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), who cast the decisive vote in the Judiciary Committee that sent his nomination to the full Senate. A coalition that includes Alliance for Justice launched a petition and email campaign earlier this month, arguing that his record is hostile to gays and lesbians, workers and minorities. Videos have also been posted on YouTube.

The nomination is noteworthy for the role it could play with each party’s base. Judicial nominations have been great motivators for Republicans, while Democrats will face pressure to reject a nominee whose rulings have been characterized as dismissive of the party’s key constituencies.