Stop Judge Leslie Southwick

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Judge Leslie H. Southwick

There is something cavalier and brazen about the manner in which Trent Lott and Thad Cochran choose federal judges.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals covers the states of Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana and is the most racially and ethnically diverse in the nation.   That, however, never seems to come into play with the Judges selected from the neoconfederate backwater of Mississippi.  

Cochran and Lott have done a superb job over the last two decades in keeping the federal judicial seats from Mississippi as white as possible. 

Carlton Reeves, the Head of the Black Magnolia Bar Association of Mississippi, has written, “Despite an ever-growing pool of highly qualified candidates from which to choose, all seventeen Mississippi nominees for federal judgeships the past twenty-two years have been white.” 

“The only appointment of an African- American federal judge in the history of Mississippi, the twentieth state to join the union, was when Judge Henry Wingate was appointed by President Reagan to the district court in 1985.” 

“Of the sixteen active and senior judges from Mississippi on the federal district courts and court of appeals, only one is African-American.   Of the nineteen active and senior judges on the Fifth Circuit, only one is African-American–Carl Stewart of Louisiana, who was appointed by President Clinton. Incidentally, Judge Stewart is only the second African-American to have been appointed to the Fifth Circuit since the court was created by the Judiciary Act of 1869.”

The African American Bar has been serially insulted by each judicial appointment from this President, each more extreme and unacceptable than the last.  The previous nominee to this seat, Michael Wallace, was a nothing more than a pinstripe Klansman with a bar card.    

The current nominee, Leslie Southwick, in his former capacity as a Court of Appeals Judge, affirmed the judgement of the state employee appeals board to re-instate a white female state employee who called a black female co-worker a “good ole nigger.”   The racist rationale is that this behavior is somehow not serious enough to warrant immediate termination. 

I have searched my mind to conjure up a scenario in which it is ever acceptable for a white woman in Mississippi to call a black woman a nigger.   Perhaps you can.  In the meantime, because the “good” judge was unable to justify this in his Senate Judicary Committee hearings, I would like for you to contact your Senator, especially if you’re like rikyrah, and are represented by a Senator on the committee. Tell them that after nearly 150 years of white supremacy, perhaps its time to try something new.

If anything I have said isn’t sufficiently persuasive, read the magnolia bar association’s letter and this report.   It is fundamental that every level of the judicial system has jurists of depth and quality.  Moreover, in order to ensure equal justice under law, the judiciary must reflect the racial and philosophical diversity that exists in this country.  Filling the bench with a bunch of Brooks Brothers suited racists like Leslie Southwick simply will not do.

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