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Hey Tony: To defend someone you don't have to attack others!

by Jeremy Hooper

You know what's super annoying? How our opposition always tries to paint someone as automatically virtuous simply because they have reproduced, served their country, and/ or supported "family values." They act as if those concepts trump everything else, and anyone who questions those kinds of people on other aspects of their lives or personalities are big bad attackers hellbent on destroying decent people.

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Cc Images Serve 0,,1461188,00-1Why are we telling you all this? Well, look at this piece from the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins (or a ghost writer), and then we'll chat:

No Surprise Here

How would you describe an accomplished litigator, a staunch family man, a veteran, a judge with a long record of being fair and distinguished? The man in question is 5th Circuit Court nominee Leslie Southwick and if you are People for the American Way (PFAW) or one of their toadies you would describe, with no evidence, Judge Southwick as a racist homophobe. Unfortunately PFAW's hold over the Senate Democrats is so strong they have thrown away all principle to attack this Iraq war veteran using boilerplate talking points by Ralph Neas and his cohorts to be applied to any judicial nominee a Republican might put forth. By attacking a man like Judge Southwick the Left has gone too far. Earlier this year Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) made promises to their Republican counterparts that Judge Southwick would get a fair up or down vote - but now, according to Senate Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), they are reneging on that promise. As Gomer Pyle used to say, put in "Surprise, Surprise!"

 Infocus Judicialnominees Images L-Southwick-100Okay, so first off: Gomer Pyle, Tony? Interesting choice. But we'll save our discussions of Don't Ask, Don't Don't Tell for another day, as the issue at hand is judicial appointee Leslie Southwick (pic) and the idea that personal life somehow pulls all scrutiny off of his professional rulings.

Here's the first thing that needs to be said: PFAW has never, to our knowledge, described Southwick as a "racist homophobe." In fact, if you search those words on PFAW's website, you get zero results. What PFAW has done, however, is present Mr. Southwick's record (highlighting two specific cases), letting it speak for itself. This from a PFAW press release:

"Two cases in particular serve to highlight Southwick’s lack of commitment to the social justice progress of the last fifty years.

In 1998, Southwick joined a ruling in an employment case that upheld the reinstatement, without any punishment whatsoever, of a white state employee who was fired for calling an African American co-worker a “good ole nigger.” The court’s decision effectively ratified a hearing officer’s opinion that the slur was only “somewhat derogatory” and “was in effect calling the individual a ‘teacher’s pet.’” The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision.

In 2001, Southwick joined a ruling that upheld a chancellor’s decision to take an eight-year-old girl away from her mother and award custody to the father, who had never married the mother, largely because the mother was living with another woman in a “lesbian home.” Southwick went even further by joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence which extolled Mississippi’s right under “the principles of Federalism” to treat “homosexual persons” as second-class citizens. The concurrence suggested that sexual orientation is a choice and stated that an adult is not “relieved of the consequences of his or her choice” – e.g. losing custody of one’s child.

And here is a pdf of a letter that PFAW sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Southwick’s confirmation. Again, in its 7 pages, there is not one mention of the words "racist" or "homophobic" (or any variant of the terms). That is because despite what Tony wants people to believe, PFAW has no interest in baselessly attacking someone's character, but rather in intensely scrutinizing those who have demonstrated a questionable lack of judgement. And Tony Perkins, rather than presenting a reasoned assessment of the two cited cases and explaining why those who are questioning Mr. Southwick are being short-sighted, instead just says, "Oh he's a father who served in Iraq -- how dare they question him?!"

The thing is, the claims against Southwick are some pretty serious ones! If you are going to jump to his defense, you owe it to EVERYONE to actually acknowledge and refute the probing, not skirt the issue. There are Iraq war vets who have gone on to commit murder. There are fathers who have molested their children. There are accomplished litigators who are of reprehensible character. And there are judges with botches on their record so startling, they could very well trump many of their other fair and decent rulings. We are not, at this time, even saying that Southwick fits that description. However, if Tony wants to be bold enough to say he doesn't while attacking and disparaging PFAW in the process, then he owes to everyone (Southwick, PFAW, gays, African-Americans, his own readers) to do so using words less playground-like than "toadies."

No Surprise Here [FRC]
Where Is the Senate Outrage over Southwick? [PFAW]
Senators Should Reject Bush’s Latest Nominee to 5th Circuit [PFAW]

**Back to Pyle: "You don't mind being on the receiving in for once, do you Sergeant?"

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