Tag Archives: judges

California Judges barred from Boy Scouts

According to an article in today’s (26 Jan) Los Angeles Daily Journal, the California Supreme Court has voted unanimously to bar judges and justices in the state from being a part of the Boy Scouts, because of that organization’s discriminatory practices and policies.

The article (behind a paywall,of course), notes that this was first suggested some 13 years ago, but the idea went down in flames.  It has been raised several times since then, but has always had opposition from the far right. And more opposition is expected to this latest ruling. No statement or rationale accompanies the ruling.  The chair of the Ethics committee,Justice Richard Fybel of the 4th District, who recommended the measure, said it was “the right thing to do.”

The right wing, of course, has slammed the decision as ‘tyrannical’.  they are the same ones that claim this will forbid judges from being members of churches.  Purest hyperbole, though, has not won this time, and it’s about time.

VOTE! & Election Recommendations

Senator – Barbara Boxer

AKA California’s Good Senator. Boxer is a reliable liberal in a senate full of utterly useless corporate centrists, and quite unafraid to make waves in the service of doing the right thing. In a career that has mostly been dominated by Republican control of the senate, Boxer has distinguished herself by pushing back against a decade of wingnuttery. By contrast, I knew about Fiorina’s awful reputation in silicon valley a decade before she decided to make a vanity run for senate, just from techies I knew heaping scorn upon the CEO who drove HP into the ground and then walked away with millions. Thank goodness Boxer’s a formidable campaigner, and Fiorina appears to be headed for the dusty place where all the gazillionaire right wing vanity candidates go after they lose, right next to Michael Huffington.

House of Representatives

CA-01 – Mike Thompson

Mike’s generally a pretty good guy, and there have been no groaners like the credit card/bankruptcy bill. this time around. Mike’s candidate-for-life in that district, but he does a good job representing his people, and I respect that.

CA-02 – Jim Reed

This district is so gerrymandered for Republicans it isn’t funny, but I have to applaud Reed for making a serious hard run at the execrable Wally Herger, who isn’t even bothering to campaign this time around, much less debate Reed.

CA-03 – Ami Bera

I am thrilled to see Democrats finally start to compete east of the Carquinez, and Bera is certainly giving Lungren a run for his money. As a once and possibly future denizen of the 3rd CD, I really hope Bera knocks off that right wing SoCal carpetbagger. The 80 corridor has changed, and deserves a good congressman.  

Governor – Jerry Brown

I didn’t endorse Brown in the primary because he effectively wasn’t bothering to run, and did not ask for my vote. Since then, Brown has come out and made a very strong case for himself as the right candidate for this moment in time. What seemed far-out 30 years ago turns out to be just what California needs today: energy independence and a healthy green economy, bullet trains and a next-generation infrastructure, efficiency in both energy and the functioning of the state government, and a deep love of the state for who we are, in stark contrast to his opponent, who seems to spend most of her time telling us why we’d be better off making California into Texas.

By contrast, Meg Whitman is basically a failed insider trading CEO reading Pete Wilson’s cue cards, and utterly unqualified to function as governor, both experientially and tempermentally. The choice by the CA GOP to run two abrasive, disgraced CEO-turned-amateur politicians after the state has suffered through a wicked one-two punch from corrupt incompetent CEOs compounded by an amateur millionaire-turned-vanity candidate just blows my mind.

Lt. Governor – Gavin Newsom

I’ll admit it; Lt. Governor isn’t the most interesting position, and Newsom is not my ideal candidate. And yet the Lt. Gov. sits on a bunch of commissions that determine everything from offshore drilling to UC tuition. Newsom has higher ambitions, and will be on good behavior delivering on his campaign promises to hold down tuition and not risk another Deepwater Horizon blowout off the California coast. Maldonado, similarly, has higher ambitions, and will no doubt do everything in his power to impress the usual CA GOP primary voters and fundraisers by throwing monkeywrenches in a Brown administration wherever possible. Additionally, Maldonado’s role in the annual hostage crisis that is the CA budgetary process has been to demand all manner of extortionary concessions before he finally cast his vote to pass it, months late. No way I’d vote to reward that kind of jackassery.

Attorney General – Kamala Harris

I am genuinely thrilled to vote for Harris, who by all accounts has done  an innovative, thoughtful job as DA in San Francisco, trying to prevent crime by studying what makes people re-offend and trying to disrupt that vicious cycle. For well over a generation, California has tried the “lock ’em up and throw away the key!” style of policing, and it has been an utter failure on every level (unless you’re a prison guard, in which case it’s been good for business). Additionally, Harris has vowed not to appeal prop 8, and to defend the state’s carbon trading regime against corporations trying to weasel out of paying for their pollution. Naturally, Karl Rove’s corporate-funded group is gunning for Harris with everything they’ve got, and throwing all manner of negative slogans against the wall to see if anything gets traction. Cooley, by contrast, will waste CA money defending the unconstitutional mess that was prop 8. Easy choice here.

Secretary of State – Deb Bowen

Quite possibly one of my favorite statewide politicians. Competent, progressive, and an effective advocate for the reform of California’s voting machines, Bowen has more than earned her reelection.

Treasurer – Bill Lockyear

I am not a fan of Lockyear, and still hold his endorsement of Schwarzeneggar against him. And yet he has done a good job of keeping the state bonds moving in an awful economy with a lot of speculators determined to create the false image of a California on the verge of a default bankruptcy crisis. I’m not likely to support him in any contested primary, but he’s a whole lot better a treasurer than Mimi Walters would be.

Controller – John Chiang

I really like the way Chiang stood up to the Schwarzeneggar administration’s attempts to screw state workers out of sheer spiteful malevolence, and I hope he has a long career in state politics ahead of him. Definitely earned reelection.

Insurance Commissioner – Dave Jones

I was impressed with Jones in the Democratic primary, esp. his deep knowledge of insurance policy and substantial record as a consumer rights advocate, and continue to support him for those reasons. Lord knows the Insurance corporations will eat us alive if noone’s standing up to them effectively.

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson

It is beyond question that our state’s public educational system is a mess, after decades of deliberate underfunding and burdensome BS testing that robs class instruction time and fattens consultants and experts while starving teachers and programs. Who you vote for in this race depends on where you think the solution lies. If you think teachers are the problem, and that the state needs to make it easier for administrators to fire them, break their unions, and lower their pay, then you probably will want to vote for the other guy. After all, that’s the mindset of the types who are backing him.

If, though, you think that teachers are the solution, and want to give our schools better funding and treat public teachers like the treasured community servants that they are, than Torlakson is your man. As a product of the CA public school system, and as someone who has taught the kids coming out of the school system, I know the strengths and weaknesses of the status quo, and I know which side I am on. I stand with teachers and Torlakson.

Board of Equalization, district 1 – Betty Yee

She seemed nice enough, although I’ll admit I was tempted for a split second to vote for the candidate named “Borg” out of sheer Trekkie geekiness. Then I remembered that’s how the state got Arnold Schwarzeneggar, and came back to my senses.

Assembly – Mariko Yamada

Mariko did such a good job standing up for the district’s interests that she got locked out of the talks on screwing the Delta and building a peripheral canal, along with Lois Wolk. She has not only voted a solid liberal line on most stuff, but has also been there for area farmers with her votes to save Williamson Act funding, one of the few things keeping back the tide of real estate speculation on Ag Land. Deserves reelection.


Keep – Carlos Moreno, Kathleen Butz

Reject – Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Ming Chin, and especially Nicholson

No recommendation – Harry Hull

I hate the way that judicial races pose all the candidates with no political or legal information and no campaigning, and then let you vote on them. People whining about the politicization for the Judiciary miss the point – it’s already politicized. On that note, here’s my reasoning for the votes:

Moreno dissented quite beautifully to prop 8 and the various decisions to let it stand. Ming Chin OTOH argued against the decision to legalize same sex marriage, then voted to uphold prop 8 after it passed.

George Nicholson is a grade a right wing activist, who wrote the “victim’s bill of rights” and is a strong proponent of “strict originalism.”

Kathleen Butz, from her information, seemed pretty middle of the road.

As for Cantil-Sakauye, I could not find any information on her legal stances, much less political ones, and I don’t trust Schwarzeneggar further than I can throw him. Better to let the next governor appoint someone else, with more of a record.

Davis School Board

Honestly, I’m still pretty upset with the way the Valley Oak closing went, and am not inclined to vote for any of the incumbants. None are crazies, and all will probably coast to reelection. I voted for Mike Nolan, for his refreshing statement that there comes a point where schools cannot be cut beyond, and that he would go to the public and ask them what they would be willing to pay for, and then float a bond well ahead of time to pay for it. I do not buy the “People in Davis don’t have the money for schools” line, not with so many Lexuses and Mercedes parked around town. Pony up, yuppies.

Ballot Initiatives

For an explanation, vote by vote, check out this diary. In a nutshell, I endorse:

YES on 19 – Let Timmy Smoke!

NO on 20 – beware of trojan horse redistricting schemes

YES on 21 – $18 a year for free entry to state parks is a great deal

NO on 22 – the budget doesn’t need yet another complicated set of restrictions

NO on 23 – Beat Texas Oil and protect CA’s green industry

YES on 24 – repeal the last budget deal’s corporate tax giveaways

YES on 25 – majority rule on budgets

NO on 26 – trojan horse corporate polluter attempt to prevent paying fines

YES on 27 return redistricting to the majority party

originally at surf putah

“Calif. Chief Justice Ronald George Tells BALD-FACED LIE in Bid to Stave Off Forced Resignation”

How dark and twisted must be the mind of a judge who is so arrogant he/she feels free to tell blatant, easily disproven, lies.  

“It was laughable that Ronald George and his cronies tried to pardon themselves for committing Ten Million Felonies after George obtained passage of Senate Bill SBx2-11 in his role as Chief of the Judicial Council, co-author of SBx2-11.”

See full story at Right Trumps Might blog, http://righttrumpsmight.blogsp…

Background facts and documents viewable at http://sites.google.com/site/f…

Arnold: Judges Are Obnoxious…Except When They Agree With Me

This is one of the more outrageous quotes that you’ll see from our Governator:

“They are going absolutely crazy,” Schwarzenegger said of judges. “So we have to have a very serious conversation with the federal government, because they have to let us run the state.”

“Whenever they agree with me, they’re right, very simple,” Schwarzenegger said wryly when told they sometimes rule in his favor. “When they don’t agree with me, they’re wrong and they’re interfering with our governing of the state.” (SacBee)

I’m not sure what to say about this. The judges are doing their job, enforcing the law.  Arnold would like to be above the law, or at least all-powerful against the law.  Messed up as our Constitution may be, it does not yet grant the Governor dictatorial powers.

It must be frustrating when you are used to simply blasting your opponents with a ray-gun, but the judiciary is there for a reason.

Arnold’s Pettiness & The Revenge of Poochigian

I feel like I can’t help but get really, really shrill with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  See, the thing is that he’s now shown himself to be a petty, vindictive political animal. Nothing new, nothing post-partisan. He’s a politician who carries a grudge.

Case in point, Arnold vetoed the rather standard reauthorization of funding for the California State Bar. Basically, the State Bar is a quasi-governmental organization. Funding comes entirely from the dues of licensed attorneys.  And while you can find plenty of attorneys (this one included) that moan about the dues, it’s not like there are any tea parties organizing.

Yet, it is clear that this veto has little to do with the fees, and a whole lot more to do with an unqualified judge: one former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian.  If you’ve been reading Calitics over the past few months, you’ll have read about his nomination and subsequent confirmation as a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.  Thing is that the Bar rated him as “not qualified.”  But the part that really got them in trouble was the fact that the score got leaked to the press before the confirmation hearing.

Of course, I suppose it doesn’t matter that Chuck Poochigian isn’t qualified for the job. He was never a high-flying litigator with a vast record of trials. And he never served as a judge.  Ron George, the Chief Justice, for his part, castigated the bar for not considering his political experience (although they actually did).  The fact is that Poochigian really just doesn’t have the experience that you typically see for a judge. And the time in the Legislature? No, that’s really not the same thing.

This brings us back to Arnold vetoing the bill.  He was simply pissed that the Bar didn’t play along with his little game for Poochigian, and basically stated that:

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger cited a recent audit critical of the bar and questioned the group’s “impartiality in considering judicial appointments.” The July audit found rising costs at the bar and poor internal controls, which allowed a former employee to embezzle nearly $676,000.

“The conduct of the State Bar itself must be above reproach,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto. “Regrettably, it is not.” (LAT 10/120/09)

Interesting that Arnold didn’t mind letting the Chiropractic Commission or the body that licenses nurses fester as they failed to do their jobs, jobs that affect the very health of millions of Californians. Yet, you mess with his political agenda, and you’ll get the horns.

Post-partisan, huh?

Hey Californians! Judicial Races Matter, Too

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Lost in all the presidential primary news is the fact that California has another important primary coming up on June 3rd. Many of us are boning up on Prop 98 and 99 and understanding the importance of our votes on those measures.

But most of us are woefully unprepared for decisions in other contests, especially those for the office of Superior Court judge. And with turnout expected to be light, we could wind up with some very scary judges if people don’t pay attention and vote.

Normally judges are appointed by the governor, serve out their six-year terms and are then considered reelected if there are no challengers.  But this year, ten seats in LA County are open because the incumbents retired and Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t have enough time to appoint successors, or otherwise decided to leave the decision to voters. Similar situations exist throughout California.

If you’re like many people I know, you leave this part of the ballot blank and feel a bit guilty. Or worse, you pick one like some people pick a horse race, by a picture, the sound of their name (seriously)  – or even by a coin toss. Lest you think that the vote doesn’t matter, consider the role these people serve in our judicial system. As the Times notes, they can “dissolve a marriage, break up a family, impose the death penalty, appoint conservators and decide whether a drug user ought to go to prison or deserves a break”.

And if you still think your vote doesn’t matter, consider two very different candidates among the many running in Los Angeles County for these seats.

A Good One. Thomas Rubinson, running for Office 82, is endorsed by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, LA’s daily for the courts and legal issues. The paper says he is “the only candidate for Superior Court Office No. 82 who possesses the qualifications for the post.” It goes on to quote from a recent performance evaluation in his role as criminal prosecutor: “He is experienced, intelligent and well versed in criminal law and procedure. He has demonstrated good judgment in his handling and evaluation of cases. Mr. Rubinson is a reliable and dependable employee, often staying beyond regular working hours to ensure that the job gets done. He maintains a professional manner and demeanor at all times and possesses the highest of ethical standards.”

A Scary One. On the other hand, Bill Johnson, running for Office 125, is the subject of a scathing LA Times editorial, which notes that “Los Angeles voters, if they don’t pay attention, could hand judicial robes to a racial separatist who called for restricting U.S. citizenship to persons ‘of the European race’ and deporting blacks, Asians, Latinos and others who don’t meet his racial criteria.” Calling it a “stealth election” the Times explains that he’s run for different offices under different names, and wrote a book supporting racial exclusion in the Constitution.

Would you have known this going into the polls? Absentee ballots are already going out. Make sure you’re registered to vote. Get your absentee ballot. Know about your candidates (one good local resource in LA is the Metropolitan News-Enterprise). And vote on June 3rd!

Share your insights on judicial candidates in comments below.  

Blocking James Rogan

Dave mentioned this in the Quickies, but I wanted to go into a little more depth on the man, the myth, the government plunderer that is James Rogan. (Not to be confused with Joe Rogan, the guy from FearFactor.)

So, here’s what happened with this judicial appointment. Rogan was appointed to a state judgeship by Arnold last summer. It was controversial at the time because, after all, Rogan was one of the lead impeachment folks on Clinton. Rogan was an angry man, you see. Or at least acted like he was enraged that a president would, I dunno, be human. So the guy has a long history of being a partisan hack, works as a judge on state court for a few months and poof! he’s qualified for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.  Ummm, right.

So, California has a little process of judicial appointments since Bush came into office, called the Parsky Commission, yup it’s named after the famed Bush fundraiser Gerry Parsky. So Parsky and our two Senators help recommend Judges for appointments so that they could pass Senate confirmation. It didn’t work so smoothly this time:

“When the Parsky Commission was set up in 2001, Sen. Boxer said it was her hope and expectation that the process would result in ‘highly qualified, moderate judicial candidates.’ Over the years, the process has worked beautifully,” Ravitz said. “This time we disagree.”

White House spokesman Trey Bohn declined to comment beyond encouraging support for Rogan. “Judge Rogan enjoys broad bipartisan support and we urge the Senate to confirm him,” said Bohn. (Fresno Bee 12.5.07)

Bipartisan support? Really? From the guy who pursued a bitterly partisan impeachment?

Leslie Southwick, and why DiFi needs a little talking to

I got an email from the Human Rights Campaign, in general not one of my favorite organizations because of their ineffectiveness.  But this one was entitled “Not Fit to Serve” and it piqued my curiosity. So, I clicked on over, and somewhat unexpectedly it was about the confirmation proceedings for Leslie Southwick. Southwick is an anti-gay, possibly racist judge from Mississippi that was appointed by W to the regional federal appeals court for his home state. (5th Circuit) 

A couple of weeks ago, Dave told you about DiFi's odious vote in support of Southwick at the committee level.  Well, the vote is back up in the full chamber of the Senate. So, please, give her office(s) a call. Here's her contact page. Call her. Email her. Fax her. Do a combination of the three. Whatever. Let her know that her vote was wrong, and is still wrong. 

Over the flip you'll find her press release about her vote on this one. It might make you uncomfortable knowing that this was a Democrat who wrote this one, but it's true. Let her know that she was just wrong.

“I have given a lot of thought to this nomination.  I have reviewed his record, his transcript.  I’ve read the letters.  I’ve had a full and very lengthy meeting with him in my office.

What emerged was an appreciation on my part that Judge Southwick is a qualified, circumspect person.  That’s hard to believe when I listen to the words of my colleagues.  I don’t believe he’s a racist.  I don’t believe I’m a racist.  I believe he made a mistake.

Now the question is, ‘Does one ever overcome their mistakes?’  I believe they do, perhaps some don’t.  But I believe he is a good person.  I believe he is steeped in the law, and he’s got 11 years of appellate experience.

Now I remember what happened to Ronnie White and, Mr. Chairman, I don’t like that either.  And my hope is that we can put these days behind us.  And that we can give people a fair hearing, and that we can move them on.

I think what sometimes gets lost in our debates about judicial nominees is that they are not just a collection of prior writings or prior judicial opinions.  They are, first and foremost, people.  And in my conversations with Judge Southwick, I have gotten a sense of what kind of person he is, and the kind of appellate judge that I believe he will be, given that opportunity.  Now can I be wrong?  Sure, I can be wrong.  Have I been wrong before?  I don’t know.  But all I can do is give this my best judgment.

There is also the fact that he is nominated to a seat that has been vacant for seven of the past eight years.  The vacancy opened in August 1999, and was filled for one year in 2004 by the recess appointment of Charles Pickering.  Judge Pickering was not confirmed to the seat, and since the end of 2004 it has been vacant again.

The Administrative Office of the Courts has designated this seat as a ‘judicial emergency.’  And Judge Southwick is the third nominee to this seat.  After Judge Pickering, Michael Wallace was nominated for the position.  His nomination was not approved by this Committee.

  I think one of the duties of our Committee is a duty also to the citizens who rely on the federal courts of appeals – a duty to ensure that the courts function properly and that vacancies on the courts are filled.  And by any cut, seven years is too long for a vacancy to remain open.

  Now I can go back years, and I can bring up Willie Fletcher, and he was delayed four years and I remember Senator Hatch helping to get him through when the Republicans were in control.  But it’s fair to say that the vacancy before us is a longtime vacancy on the Fifth Circuit.

I look at this judge as an experienced appellate judge.  He sat on the state court of appeals in Mississippi for 11 years, from January 1995 to December 2006.  As has been said, he heard roughly 7,000 appeals.  Well, I know I sat on 5,000 cases on the California women’s term and parole board.  Just 5,000 over almost six years, and this is a lot of cases.

The concerns around Judge Southwick center around two opinions he joined.  One of them was a child custody case involving a same-sex relationship, and the other involved a state employee’s use of a very odious racial slur.

These were two cases out of the 7,000 in which he participated.  He did not write the opinions; he joined them.  One was a majority opinion joined by four other judges on his court and one was a concurring opinion in a case where he also joined the majority.

Ultimately, the case involving the odious racial slur was reversed by the state Supreme Court and remanded for consideration of a different penalty.  And that is good.

The ruling of Judge Southwick’s court in the child custody case apparently was not appealed to the state’s high court.

I strongly believe that Judge Southwick should not have joined the opinions in those cases as they were written.  That is my view.  But I also believe that they alone should not disqualify him for a federal judgeship.

He has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association committee that evaluates judicial nominees – a unanimous rating of ‘well qualified’ for this judgeship.

Ten years into his service on the state court of appeals, the Mississippi State Bar awarded him their Judicial Excellence Award.  That award, given by the legal community that I hope knows him best, described him as ‘a leader in advancing the quality and integrity of justice’ and as ‘a person of high ideals, character, and integrity.’  You wouldn’t believe that if you listened to my colleagues.

There is even more powerful evidence of his character.  As a 54-year-old military reservist in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army, he volunteered in 2004 to serve in a unit that was going to be deployed to Iraq.

And by 2004 his new unit, the 155th Brigade Combat Team, had been called to active duty.  Judge Southwick took a leave of absence from his job as a state court of appeals judge.

And from January to December 2005, he served in Iraq.  He served as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at Forward Operating Base Duke, which is near Najaf, and later as Staff Judge Advocate for the 155th Brigade, stationed at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.

How many judges have done that?  Now maybe that doesn’t count in the views of some.  But it should count, I think, as a kind of test of character of a man.  Fifty-four years old and he volunteers essentially to go to Iraq, and he does go to Iraq for one year.

Now, add this.  Last year, we approved him for a district court seat by unanimous consent.  Ultimately the full Senate failed to vote on his nomination, but if we had, it is almost certain that he would be serving as a district judge today.

When we considered his district court nomination last year the ABA rating of ‘well qualified’ was not unanimous.  As I have said, the ABA has now rated him unanimously ‘well qualified’ for this seat.  In the view of the ABA committee, he’s I guess more qualified for this seat than he was for the seat that we unanimously approved him for last year.

Now, let me say this.  Again, if I believed he was racist I would not vote for him.  But I actually don’t.  And it’s very hard for me to put that kind of an appellation on someone if you don’t believe that is true.

I spoke with him yesterday and I asked him: Please in writing address the concerns, particularly the odious slur, that have led to so much opposition on behalf of the civil rights community, the House, members on my side of the aisle.

And he responded with a letter, and I would like to ask unanimous consent that it be entered into the record.

And I would like to read this letter:

‘As you made clear to me today, one of your principal concerns is about an opinion that I joined which evaluated the use of a racial slur by a state employee. With your indulgence, I would like to give as complete an explanation as I can of my thoughts on the slur itself and how it was discussed in the opinion.

The court said that the use of the word “cannot be justified” by any argument. It could have gone far beyond that legalistic statement. Captured in this one terrible word is a long, dark, sad chapter in our history. This racial slur is unique in its impact and painful to hear for many, including myself. I said at my hearing that this is the worst of all racial slurs. Its use is despicable. All people of good will should make their rejection of the word clear. The opinion had an opportunity to express more fully and accurately the complete disgust that should greet the use of this word. Such a statement would certainly be consistent with my own beliefs that this is the worst kind of insult. As I testified, everyone took this issue extraordinarily seriously. I regret that the failure to express in more depth our repugnance of the use of this phrase has now led to an impression that we did not approach this case with sufficient gravity and understanding of the impact of this word.

Since this opinion has been considered by some to be the window into my own beliefs, a peek into my soul, allow me to give you some events in my life that reflect my strong beliefs in fairness and opportunity for all and my rejection of racial insults.

I always tried to treat everyone who came before me as a judge with respect. I gave a memorandum to each of my law clerks that they were to use no disparaging words towards anyone in a draft opinion, no matter what the appeal was about. From the bench and in my opinions, I followed that same rule. I believe that everyone whom I encounter, whether as a judge or in some purely private capacity, is deserving of my respect.

I took a broad view in looking for staff. I was one of the original ten judges on the Court of Appeals, taking office in January 1995. In my second year on the court, I became the first white judge to hire an African-American law clerk on that court. I could not have been more pleased with her work, and she went on to be a partner in a major Mississippi law firm. I was equally pleased with the two additional African-American clerks I hired before I left the court.

For several years – until funding problems caused its demise – I was the president of a local charity called the Jackson Servant Leadership Corps. This was a faith-based charity that provided a house in the inner city for five recent college graduates to live for a year, and to learn about working for charities. They were provided a stipend by AmeriCorps and worked at a local soup kitchen, for Habitat for Humanity, and for other charities. Every Martin Luther King Day we were the coordinators for work projects in the community, matching up volunteers with needs.’

And it goes on.  And he concludes by saying this:

‘Until the last two months, my fairness and temperament had not been subject to criticisms. The recent concern may have arisen from the fact that only one piece of evidence was being used, namely, the racial slur opinion. A much better explanation of my own abhorrence of this slur clearly could have been written. I have tried in this explanation to express my disgust for the use of that word and to present some of the evidence from my own life to prove my commitment to furthering the civil rights of all.’

Now, I am going to vote in favor of Judge Southwick going to the floor because I really think, based on this letter and on my own discussions, that he is not outside the judicial mainstream.

Now, could I be wrong?  Yes, I could be wrong.  I’ll admit that.  But all we can do is give this our best judgment.

I hope that future nominees of Democratic presidents will be treated in the same way.  I think that we have had too much of this, over too many years.  And I truly believe that the concerns outlined about Judge Southwick are outweighed by his record of service to the country, by the many cases that he sat on, by his long experience as an appellate judge, and by the temperament that I have come to know from my discussions with him.”