When asked why Southern writers so often write about freaks, Flannery O'Connor responded, "because we are still able to recognize one."

This ability to recognize a freak is possessed by many Southerners, not just our writers, and is akin to the ability to recognize right from wrong. Some of us in the South can still tell the difference because we have not yet succumbed, as so many of our countrymen have, to the false allure of relativism.

Our own U.S. Senator John Cornyn has this ability and exercised it to great effect during his questioning of John McConnell Jr, a plaintiffs attorney with the Motley Rice law firm who has been nominated for a federal judgeship in Rhode Island.

Cornyn, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, asked McConnell about the propriety of a lawyer encouraging a school board to participate in a mass tort lawsuit against lead paint makers, regardless of whether its schools contained lead paint or not.

McConnell was obliged to admit that such an action is inappropriate.

Now he's got some explaining to do. Ten years ago, his firm – then called Ness Motley Loadholt Richardson & Poole – collaborated on a lead paint lawsuit in Texas with Beaumont attorney Tanner Hunt, who made just such a solicitation on their behalf.

"District administrators may not be certain whether there is any lead-based paint remaining in district buildings, but it doesn't matter at this point," Tanner asserted in an August 2000 memo to the chairman and the executive director of the Region 11 Education Service Center; "and since there is no statue of limitations we may go back as far as anecdotal and other evidence permits in working up each district's claim."

Caught in Cornyn's trap, McConnell has been exposed as a man who struggles with knowing what is right and wrong. He is clearly unfit to be a judge and his nomination should be rejected. We have enough freaks on the bench already.

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