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Senate Republicans threaten 'shutdown' over delayed Fifth Circuit nominee vote

[JURIST] US Senate Republicans Thursday threatened to shut down business in the Senate after Democrats postponed a Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] vote on the nomination of Mississippi Court of Appeals Justice Leslie H. Southwick [official profile; nomination information] to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The postponement came during the committee's weekly Executive Business Meeting [agenda], when Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that the committee needed to take a closer look at Southwick because of potentially racist and homophobic beliefs. Leahy rejected criticism that he was deliberately dragging his feet, pointing out that, during his terms as chairman, he oversaw the confirmation of more nominees than either of the prior two Republican chairmen did in the same amount of time.

A previous nominee to the Fifth Circuit, Michael Wallace [nomination information], withdrew from consideration [JURIST report] after the Democratic takeover of Congress. The American Bar Association (ABA) [group website] had voted unanimously [JURIST report] that Wallace, a former aide to US Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), was "not qualified" [ratings, PDF] to sit on the court. Southwick was initially nominated [press release] in 2006 to fill a seat on the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, but was renominated for the Circuit Court [press release] following Wallace's withdrawal. The ABA unanimously voted Southwick to be "well qualified" [ratings, PDF], the highest possible rating. The Washington Times has more.

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