Salazar Votes Both Ways on Controversial Federal Judge

Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado helped confirm President Bush’s nominee Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today, by first voting for him and then voting against him. Critics have accused Southwick of expressing racist and homophobic opinions in his judicial opinions.Salazar was one of three Democratic Senators who voted not to filibuster the nomination of Southwick, but then voted against his confirmation on the merits.  Salazar knew that the filibuster was the vote that could kill Southwick’s nomination as it required 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster of the nomination, rather than a mere majority vote. Salazar joined 61 other Senators to end the filibuster of the nomination while 35 Senators voted to continue the filibuster. Three Senators did not vote. 

On the merits, Salazar voted against Southwick, who was confirmed by a 59-38 vote with three Senators not voting. 

Every Republican, as well as Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, voted for Southwick on the merits, as did the following Democrats (all Senators not voting were Democrats; all Senators opposing the nomination were Democrats except Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, who is an Independent). 

Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Benjamin Nelson (D-NE) and Mark Pryor (D-AR). 

Like Salazar, Democrats Thomas Carper from Delaware and Daniel Inouye from Hawaii also refused to filibuster the nominee, while voting against the nominee on the merits.

Wikipedia sums up the opposition to Southwick based largely upon intolerant racial and homophobic views expressed in his judicial opinions while serving on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from 1994 to 2006.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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