Following the announced withdrawal of four highly controversial court of appeals nominees, President Bush sent his first judicial nominees of the new Congress to the Senate yesterday. In the group were the renominations of Thomas Hardiman to the Third Circuit, Peter Keisler to the DC Circuit, Debra Livingston to the Second Circuit, and Randy Smith to the Ninth Circuit.
Missing from the list were the Michigan Sixth Circuit nominees Raymond Kethledge and Stephen Murphy, along with Janet Neff and two other Michigan district court nominees -- all were nominated as part of a package deal negotiated with the home-state senators. They were held up by Senator Sam Brownback 's grandstanding on same-sex marriage (he blocked Neff because she attended a same-sex commitment ceremony). According to NRO’s Bench Memos, the Michigan judges are expected to be renominated following additional Senate negotiations.
A newcomer to the roster of circuit court nominees was Judge Leslie Southwick, who currently sits on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He had previously been nominated for a district court spot. Yesterday, the president nominated Judge Southwick to the open spot that he had previously attempted to fill with Charles Pickering and, more recently, Michael Wallace. Let's hope that Judge Southwick turns out to be, in the words of Senator Leahy, a “consensus nomination” that will end the jinx on this seat.