[JURIST] The US Senate Wednesday confirmed embattled Mississippi Court of Appeals Justice Leslie H. Southwick [official profile; nomination information] to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by a vote of 59-38 [roll call], despite broad criticism of the nominee from Democrats and civil rights groups. Southwick, who was unanimously given the highest possible rating of "well qualified" [ratings, PDF] by the American Bar Association, has in the past been accused of being insensitive to racism and homophobia. Republicans had promised earlier this year that delays in Southwick's confirmation would result in their moving to shut down Senate business [JURIST report].
Of the nine Democrats who joined Republicans in supporting Southwick, several were members of the so called "Gang of 14" [JURIST report], who in 2005 avoided a filibuster showdown over several controversial confirmation hearings when Republicans controlled the Senate. Independent Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) [official website], a member of the Democratic side of the "Gang" in 2005, defended his vote to confirm Southwick, noting that Southwick did not write the court opinions in decisions that were criticized, and that Southwick consistently applied the proper appellate standards of review [press release] in his tenure on the Mississippi court. Bloomberg has more. Reuters has additional coverage.