Thursday, October 25, 2007

Montana's Senators vote against Southwick confirmation

Both Sens. Baucus and Tester voted against confirming Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

This has been a long-standing battle, and one that the left-most wing of the Democratic party wanted to go down fighting over. But the final cloture vote was 62-35, breaking the Democratic filibuster, and in the end, the Southwick was confirmed easily by a vote of 59-38.

On that final vote, Southwick was found to be an acceptable judge by Democratic Senators Akaka of Hawaii, Feinstein of CA, Dorgan and Conrad of ND, Byrd of WV, Lincoln and Pryor of AR, Johnson of SD, and Nelson of Nebraska.

But not by Montana's Senators Tester and Baucus, who apparently are to the judicial left of all of the above Democratic Senators.

And consider this statement by Tom Daschle's protege Democrat Tim Johnson of SD, who also voted to confirm:

Judge Southwick possesses a high level of legal skill and is a man of solid personal and professional integrity. I voted today to confirm his nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While it is not the role of the Senate to "rubber stamp" any President's judicial nominations, it is also true that any President's choice deserves due deference. Although there is always pressure to do so, I do not have a litmus test on any issue for judicial nominees.

I do not believe that simple political ideology ought to be a deciding factor so long as the nominee's views are not significantly outside the mainstream of American legal thinking. I have concerns about Judge Southwick's rulings on some civil rights and child custody cases in the past, but I cannot accept an argument that his views are so radical that the Senate is justified in denying his confirmation.

For eight years this seat on the bench of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has sat vacant. The American people deserve a justice system that not only works fairly, but also swiftly, in the manner intended by those who designed the branch of government to interpret our laws.


One wishes that Montana's Senators would have similar common-sense views on the President's judicial nominations.

One good thing: Sens. Clinton and Obama both voted against confirmation. If either of them become President, bringing those votes to their recollection will be useful in explaining to them why we are filibustering their own nominations to the court.

5 comments:

Forty Seven said...

One could spend a long time wishing for common sense from Baucus and Tester without any wish fulfillment. Go Bushman!

Anonymous said...

Before I would even begin to make any kind of judgement on why Tester or Baucus voted not to confirm, I would like to hear their rational, not the rational that others used for their vote. I think it is a little bit of hyperboli to say that either Tester or Baucus are "left of the senators that voted to confirm". Their voting record certainly doesn't indicate it.

That said, does anyone know why they voted no?

Moorcat

Montana Headlines said...

Yes, it is a bit interesting that we get press releases from Tester and Baucus on most everything they do -- but Max hasn't sent me an e-mail trumpeting about this vote.

I'd like to know the reasons, too.

Regarding voting records on judicial nominees, that deserves a separate post, and I'll try to put up one tomorrow.

Shane C. Mason said...

But not by Montana's Senators Tester and Baucus, who apparently are to the judicial left of all of the above Democratic Senators.

Is there only left and right? That is a pretty big assumption that the only reason they could vote against him was his position on a 1-d slider,

Montana Headlines said...

Call it convenient shorthand for the well-known judicial confirmation wars that have been going on since Democrats used scorched-earth tactics against Robert Bork -- and proved with the Thomas hearings that they had no intention of engaging in anything other than total-warfare, stopping at nothing to try to keep jurists of a certain originalist orientation off the court.

As I said, it sounds like this deserves its own post at a later date.