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5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Leslie H. Southwick

Gang of 10

Human Race | Senate Democrats hold hostage another judgeship

Issue: "Crossing borders," June 23, 2007

Senate Republicans earlier this month threatened to shut down chamber business after the 10 Democrats on the judiciary committee delayed a vote on the nomination of Leslie H. Southwick to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing possible racist and "homophobic" beliefs. Bush in January nominated Southwick, who served as Deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department and as a member of the Mississippi Court of Appeals from its creation in 1995 until 2004, when he deployed to Iraq with the National Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team.

But at confirmation hearings, committee Democrats grilled Southwick on two cases. In one where the jurist voted to uphold a ruling awarding custody of a young girl to her father instead of her bisexual mother and used the term "homosexual lifestyle"; and another, where Southwick agreed with a majority decision in which the court ruled that a white social worker accused of using a racial slur against a co-worker should be reinstated to her job and given back pay. While the justice condemned the slur as "demeaning," he agreed with the Employee Appeals Board's argument that use of the term "had not sufficiently affected the workplace" to warrant her dismissal.

Heritage Foundation legal analyst Todd Gaziano said there is "no merit" to the concerns raised by Democrats over Southwick's record: "Let the senators vote against him if they will, but give him an up-or-down vote."

Outed

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Did Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace fall victim to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)? In a March interview with the Chicago Tribune, Pace said "homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral," as is adultery. "I do not believe that the United States is well served by a policy that says it's OK to be immoral in any way."

When President Bush announced last week he would not reappoint Pace as chairman of the joint chiefs, the general's March remarks immediately resurfaced as the potential cause. While the White House kept mum, retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady suggested that Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not want to defend Pace's statements about homosexuality in reconfirmation hearings before Congress.

Ironically, Brady noted in a Military.com editorial, Pace's comments reflect the UCMJ-which was passed by Congress. "Sodomy is a crime according to the UCMJ. . . a 'serious moral offense,'" Brady wrote. "General Pace as the top enforcer of military law is expected to both enforce and agree with those laws." Now it appears that saying so publicly may have cost the general his job.

Close-ups

ENTERTAINMENT: Songwriters Jeff Peabody and Scott Krippayne think it doesn't hurt to try and try again. The two Seattle area musicians co-wrote a song called "Don't You Dare" and decided to enter it in this year's American Idol songwriting competition. "A few days before the deadline we thought, 'Man let's take another shot-see if we can write another one,'" Krippayne told the Tacoma News Tribune. "And we're really glad we did."

That number was "This Is My Now," which beat 25,000 entries in an online competition to become the sixth season's winning song-sung by finalists Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis (a Seattle native) in the season finale.

Now a digital-only single sung by Idol champion Sparks, the tune hit No. 15 on Billboard charts this month. It was the first release for Peabody, pastor of New Day Church in Tacoma, and a veteran of writing his own praise and worship songs. Krippayne is a local singer-songwriter whose pop tunes were familiar to CCM fans in Washington state before he hit the big time.

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