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The Senate Judiciary Committee put off voting on a contentious nominee to the federal bench for the second time last week, giving liberal interest groups more time to try to convince senators to deep-six the nomination of Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit.

Citing insensitivity to civil and gay rights and having a pro-business slant, the groups are opposing Southwick, a former Mississippi appellate judge, who is President George W. Bush’s third try at filling the open slot on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has remained essentially vacant since 2002. His previous two choices — U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering Sr. and lawyer Michael Wallace — caused an uproar among civil rights groups leading to a standoff in the Senate before Bush appointed Pickering to a recess appointment in 2004. Wallace withdrew his name from consideration last December.

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