Senate OKs Judge Opposed by Civil Rights Groups

He'll serve on federal court in the South
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2007 5:10 PM CDT
Senators, from left, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott of Miss., left, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wait for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, to come to the podium during a news...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Senate today confirmed a judge opposed by civil rights groups to a seat on a federal appeals court in the South. Judge Leslie Southwick will serve on the 5th Circuit, which comprises Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, the New York Times reports. A civil rights leader called the appointment  “a slap in the face to African Americans,” but Southwick's defenders say his detractors exaggerate.

Southwick once reinstated with back pay a white employee who’d used a racial epithet; in another case, he denied child custody to a bisexual mother. Nine Democrats voted to confirm the former deputy AG, including Dianne Feinstein, who dismissed suggestions of Southwick’s racism. Critics accused Democrats of making a deal for GOP support on future spending bills.