The NYT has this blog post about the upcoming Senate vote on Fifth Circuit nominee Leslie Southwick.
And, it is unspeakably lame, for reasons well stated by the commenters to the post.
The Times says:
"The question is whether he is sufficiently sensitive to civil rights issues to sit on a federal appeals court, especially one in a part of the country that has one of the highest concentrations of African-Americans, and many racially charged cases involving issues like the death penalty."
I'm not sure that is the question. The Times commentary suggests that all appeals court judges with aspirations to higher judicial offices should always write separate opinions along these lines: "I concur in the opinion (along with the Democratic appointees among my colleagues), except to the extent that it may be construed regardless of context as insufficiently sensitive to civil rights issues."
Normally, from the perspective of labor-management relations, I would have thought that the "liberal" side of a government employee termination case is on the side of preserving the individual's job, while the "conservative" side maximizes the employer's power to do as it likes. Similarly, as a matter of administrative law theory, one would suspect that affirming the agency's reinstatement of the employee would be the way of "judicial restraint," while rejecting the agency's expertise would be the "activist" position. Judge Southwick joins an opinion siding with the individual against the government, and upholding the administrative decision - and gets nailed from the Left. Yet, beyond the facts of this particular case, this precedent would support enforcing the rights of the individuals who are the victims of employment discrimination, as found by the state agency.
I've wondered why the ABA gave a thumbs down to Michael Wallace from Mississippi, but they gave Southwick a "well-qualified" rating as shown on this list, which also shows that Fourth Circuit nominee Robert Conrad, Jr., received the same rating.