President George W. Bush nominated Leslie H. Southwick in 2007 to the federal appeals court, Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans. Initially, Southwick seemed a consensus nominee. Just days before his hearing, though, a progressive advocacy group distributed the results of research it had conducted on opinions of the state court on which he had served for twelve years. Two opinions Southwick had signed off on but not written became the center of the debate over the next five months. One dealt with a racial slur by a state worker, the other with a child custody battle between a father and a bisexual mother. Apparent bipartisan agreement for a quick confirmation turned into a long set of battles in the Judiciary Committee, on the floor of the Senate, and in the media.
Eventually, Southwick received the judicial nomination by a two-vote margin in the Senate. Throughout the struggle, Southwick learned that perspective and growth are important to all of us when making decisions, and he grew to accept his critics, regardless of outcome. In The Nominee there is no rancor, and instead the book expresses the understanding that the difficult road to success was the most helpful one for him, both as a man and as a judge.
In Sunday's Clarion Ledger, local attorney Andy Taggart reviewed The Nominee, saying,
We are blessed that the author so carefully documented the entire journey that led to his joining the court. What began as a handwritten diary on a legal pad in 1991 evolved into three separate documents maintained by computer through 2007, regularly updated with his personal observations and notations about conversations, extensive email and letter correspondence, copies of news articles and columns and, regrettably, scurrilous attacks on his character and integrity. It is from those contemporaneous records, not from fuzzy memory, that Judge Southwick draws in guiding the reader on his journey...
The reader who puts this book down after turning the last page will likely feel a renewed optimism that there is hope yet for the restoration of those hallmarks to the space they should occupy among us.
This reading and signing is supported by UPM's Bookfriends and is being held in conjunction with our celebration of University Press Week.