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Old 02-06-2002, 03:28 PM
Kimmie1913 Kimmie1913 is offline
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Nomination of Charles Pickering Sr.

Dear Sorors and Friends,

This past week I attended a forum at Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital addressing concerns of the civil rights community. At the forum, the spokesperson from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights stressed upon us that the most pressing issue is the nomination of Charles Pickering Sr. to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. A press release from the LCCR ( is below. It is the feeling of many of the nation's civil rights leaders and organization that he is a threat to our civil rights. A hearing will be conducted on Thursday February 7, 2002 regarding his nomination before the Senate Judiciary committee. It is IMPERATIVE that we voice our concerns to our state Senators. Whether they are on the judiciary committee or not, we must let them know that we oppose his appointment to the bench. You can call, fax or email your Senators. Their contact information is available at Please take the time to make your voice heard.

LCCR Opposes Pickering Nomination to Fifth Circuit- Serious Concerns About Nominee's Civil Rights Record

Description A press release by the LCCR opposing the nomination of Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Content Type Press Release
Date January 24, 2002
Location National
Publication Source LCCR

Related Issues Nominations and Judicial Appointments

Content Text

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cory Smith

(202) 466-3311

January 23, 2002 -- Washington, D.C. Wade Henderson, Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), issued the following statement today regarding President Bush's nomination of Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:

"Although I am honored to join my colleagues this morning in defending the integrity of the federal courts, I regret that today’s action has been made necessary by the nomination of an individual to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals whose background, actions and temperament render him unsuitable for elevation to this most important court.

As we know, the federal courts often are called the guardians of the Constitution because their rulings protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by this most hallowed of documents. For many Americans, the federal judiciary is the first line of defense against violations of dearly held constitutional principles; for others, it is the last bastion of hope in a system that has marginalized, mistreated or simply ignored them.

The Leadership Conference strongly believes that the composition of the federal judiciary is a civil rights issue of profound importance to all Americans, because the individuals charged with dispensing justice in our society have a direct impact on civil rights protections for us all.

As such, the federal judiciary must be perceived by the public as an instrument of justice, and the individuals who are selected for this branch of government must be the embodiment of fairness and impartiality.

Our exhaustive and careful review of Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr.’s public record -- from law student to state legislator to judge, as well as the presentations we have heard today, have left us with little alternative but to oppose his nomination because of his extreme views on important civil rights, women’s rights and constitutional issues.

When taken together, these immoderate positions ought to disqualify Judge Pickering from serious consideration for any federal Circuit, much less the important 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is especially important to note that we are discussing this nominee in the context of the Circuit to which he has been appointed. With Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit has the largest percentage of people of color of any Circuit Court in the country. Unquestionably, much is at stake when it comes to civil rights.

Historically, the Fifth Circuit was the Circuit of “Unlikely Heroes,” who in the face of much opposition, issued scores of important opinions that in effect desegregated the South. This is the Circuit of:

John Minor Wisdom who ordered that James Meredith to be admitted to the University of Mississippi;

Richard Rives who outlawed segregation on the Montgomery city buses;

Elbert Tuttle who ordered the integration of the University of Georgia and struck down Louisiana’s segregated pupil placement laws; and finally,

John Brown who, in U.S. v. Mississippi, wrote that “no nation can survive if it flagrantly denies its citizens the right to vote.”

Today, the Fifth Circuit is dramatically different. It is now one of, if not the most hostile appellate courts in the country when it comes to civil rights. The Fifth Circuit is now the Hopwood Court that refused to apply Bakke to college admissions, impacting educational opportunities for black and brown students. The Fifth Circuit is now the Reeves Court that issued an opinion about the “intent” standard in employment discrimination cases so extreme it was overturned by the Supreme Court, 9-0. The Fifth circuit is the LULAC v. Clements court that held that the Voting rights Act does not apply to at-large judicial elections; again, an opinion so extreme, it was reversed by the U.S. Supreme court.

After our careful review of Judge Pickering's record -- on and off the bench -- we are forced to conclude that he is the wrong man for the Fifth Circuit. This Circuit requires a jurist who will have a moderating influence on the Court. We urge the Senate to consider all of these circumstances and to exercise its constitutional prerogative to reject this nominee cries out for moderation. And we implore President Bush to nominate a moderate for this critical position.
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Old 02-17-2002, 01:10 PM
Steeltrap Steeltrap is offline
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Some people actually seem to like the cat

From today's New York Times. Good piece, does seem to show a disconnect:

February 17, 2002
Blacks at Home Support a Judge Liberals Assail
AUREL, Miss., Feb. 15 — Back in Washington, his opponents have depicted Judge Charles W. Pickering as the personification of white Mississippi's oppressive past, a man so hostile to civil rights and black progress that he is unfit for promotion to a federal appeals court.

But here on the streets of his small and largely black hometown, far from the bitterness of partisan agendas and position papers, Charles Pickering is a widely admired figure of a very different present.

In funeral parlors and pharmacies, used-car lots and the City Council chambers, the city's black establishment overwhelmingly supports his nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is heading toward a contentious vote in the Senate in the first major judicial battle of the Bush administration.

Though few black residents here subscribe to Judge Pickering's staunchly Republican politics, many say they admire his efforts at racial reconciliation, which they describe as highly unusual for a white Republican in the state.

"I have never seen Trent Lott open his arms to the black community the way Charles Pickering has," said Larry E. Thomas, owner of Thomas Pharmacy, referring to the Senate minority leader, who is Judge Pickering's friend and patron. "Over the years I've seen him work with black leaders and really try to make an effort to understand and help the community. That's a progressiveness that we need to see more of in this state."

Progressive is not exactly the description used by the national black officials who are making an intense effort to prevent the judge's appointment. "A vote for Pickering is a vote against civil rights," said Julian Bond, the national chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. Representative Robert C. Scott, Democrat of Virginia, speaking against the nomination with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, "It's hard to imagine a person who is more hostile to civil rights." Judge Pickering has also been condemned by a variety of big-city newspaper editorial boards and columnists.

But such comments carry little weight among those who actually know the man personally here in Laurel, in southeast Mississippi. Judge Pickering, now a federal district judge in the nearby city of Hattiesburg, was praised by black city officials for helping to set up after- school youth programs here, and for directing federal money to medical clinics in low-income areas when he was a state senator. Black business leaders say he was influential in persuading white-owned banks to lend money to black entrepreneurs, helping to strengthen the city's black middle class.

"I can't believe the man they're describing in Washington is the same one I've known for years," said Thaddeus Edmonson, a former local president of the N.A.A.C.P. who is now president of the seven-member Laurel City Council and one of its five black members. "If those people who are voting against him because of some press release would just come down here and talk to the people who know him, I think they would have a very different opinion."

The judge's widespread popularity in his hometown has been frustrating to the many civil rights and abortion rights groups that have worked to portray him as an ideological relic of the Old South.

Several opponents of his nomination have tried unsuccessfully to get his supporters to change their minds, and their inability to do so reflects the distance between national liberal groups and many Southern blacks in small towns. In a city like Laurel, with a population of 18,393, one's personality and faith are often more important than a judicial paper trail or an adherence to an agenda.

People for the American Way, a liberal organization based in Washington, has criticized Judge Pickering for disregarding the separation of church and state by promoting religious programs from the bench. But many prominent blacks here say it is precisely his religious background — he was president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention in the 1980's — that they admire.

"I know Judge Pickering is a fair and impartial person grounded with Christian ethics and beliefs, who ought to be given this chance," said the Rev. Arthur Logan, the black pastor of the Union Baptist Church and a member of the City Council. "There are many people in Mississippi who made these same mistakes early in life, but their strong Christian character brought them closer to God and helped them change."

Four of the five black council members, in fact, said they enthusiastically supported Judge Pickering's appointment. The fifth, Manuel Jones, said he opposed the nomination, largely because he differed with Judge Pickering's efforts in the late 1980's to integrate the largely black city schools with the largely white county schools.

Judge Pickering, then in private practice in Laurel, was one of several white city leaders who argued that the city could not attract economic development with an effectively segregated school system. At the time, Mr. Jones was president of the Laurel-Jones County branch of the N.A.A.C.P., which maintained that consolidation would dilute black administrative power over the city schools. The consolidation plan was eventually overturned by a federal judge, who said it was not justified.

Mr. Jones said he rebuffed a recent telephone request by Judge Pickering that he write the Senate a letter of support. (He had publicly opposed the judge's original appointment to the federal bench in 1990.) Several other council members did agree to the judge's request, however, and their letters are on file with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"It's hard to go against a sitting federal judge," said Mr. Jones, searching for an explanation of why his colleagues have taken a position that differs so sharply from his.

Many of the judge's critics have cited actions or statements he made in the 1960's and 70's. They have pointed to an article he wrote in 1959 that appeared to support strengthening the state's law against interracial marriages, and to his votes in the state senate that appeared to dilute black voting strength.

But his many black supporters here — all lifelong Democrats — say they are more interested in his journey than his starting point. They say Judge Pickering, like many white Mississippians, has moved beyond his all-too-common origins.

"He grew up like a lot of white people here," said the Rev. George L. Barnes, a black minister who is pastor at two Missionary Baptist churches and owns a used-car lot. "But his daddy and my daddy used to swim together down in the creek, and I've never heard him say a racist thing. I would say, of people in his age bracket, he's probably come further than any white man I know of."

Local leaders' support for Judge Pickering has put them at odds with several black state officials and the Mississippi conference of the N.A.A.C.P., which oppose his appointment. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who represents the Delta region on the opposite side of the state in Congress, has called the judge's black supporters "Judases." State N.A.A.C.P. officials say the judge's supporters in Laurel have succumbed to an effort to cover up his feelings with small acts of kindness. This alternately angers and amuses local residents, who say no such masquerade can last for decades.

"If he's been putting on a show for us, it's the greatest show on earth," said Mr. Thomas, who runs the city's only black-owned pharmacy and who served with Mr. Pickering on the local economic development board in the 1980's.

Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, which is leading the opposition to the appointment, said many of the judge's supporters in Laurel simply did not know the full details of his record.

"We don't dispute that he has support from a number of African- Americans at the local level, and we have never said he is a racist," Mr. Neas said. "He may be a decent person on a one-to-one basis, but that's not the issue. It's his actions as a public official that demonstrate insensitivity and hostility toward basic civil rights principles."

People for the American Way said that as a state senator in the 1970's, Mr. Pickering voted for measures to reduce black voting strength and approved giving state money to the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which became notorious for opposing the civil rights movement. On the federal bench, the group said, he has strongly criticized the creation of largely black political districts as a remedy for past discrimination.

Many local residents said they were not familiar with such statements. But they do remember that in 1967, Judge Pickering testified against Sam Bowers, a Ku Klux Klan leader based in Laurel who was on trial for the firebombing death of a black civil rights worker. Several said that just as the judge broke with prevailing white opinion in the state to do so, they have no trouble differing with black opinion.

"What blacks have fought for is freedom, and that means the freedom of expression to differ among ourselves," said Johnny Magee, a black councilman who supports the judge. "So many people are still angry about the past. But if the judge has moved beyond his past, I think we should all try to do the same."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information
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Old 02-17-2002, 04:10 PM
ladygreek ladygreek is offline
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Question confused

I read that article this morning and found it very interesting. I too attended Delta Days and was rather confused about the whole presentation. While the panelist was speaking I felt as if he was really stretching to come up with solid reasons not to back Pickering Sr. Then I read the website and felt the same then. All of the evidence presented was from 30 years ago and there really wasn't anything said that was current. However, I do understand the caution in having this nomination accepted.

Does anyone know what kind of Congressman Chip Pickering Jr. is? Since the apple does not fall far from the tree I would be interested in hearing from anyone what they think of him.
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Old 03-14-2002, 12:58 PM
JJSP01 JJSP01 is offline
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Angry Pickering Update

I just received this email....thought I'd post it for you all...

This is to inform you that the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals TODAY at 2:00 p.m. in room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building located on Constitution Avenue, NE between First and Second Streets, NE.

The nomination is opposed by leading civil rights organizations including the NAACP ( and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights ( See press releases below.
Leaders From Mississippi, Louisiana And Texas Ready To Comment On Pickering Confirmation

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2002

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest and broadest civil rights coalition, opposes the nomination of Southern District of Mississippi Judge Charles Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Pickering's record as a district court judge and as a state senator shows his hostility to civil and constitutional rights. Throughout Pickering's career, he has demonstrated a commitment to the reversal of a number of these rights, for which LCCR has fought for more than 50 years.

Charles Pickering's negative civil rights record is of particular concern in the circuit to which he has been nominated. With 43 percent of the Fifth Circuit made up of people from underrepresented groups, it is crucial that the judges be extremely sensitive to the civil rights and concerns of these populations. However, as a state senator, Pickering voted to resist measures that would expand electoral opportunities for African Americans, even after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In addition, as a district court judge, Pickering has continued to strongly criticize the protection of voters' rights by federal courts under the "one person-one vote" doctrine as "obtrusive."

Joining the LCCR and other national organizations in opposing Charles Pickering's confirmation is a diverse group of individuals and representatives from civil rights and women's rights organizations in Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. Several recently made their opposition known in written letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some community leaders came to the nation's capitol last week to voice their opposition to their Senators and to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Press interested in reviewing these letters and/or contacting these individuals and organizations should call 202.466.1885.

In addition to these individuals and organizations, a diverse cross-section of national organizations have opposed Charles Pickering's confirmation because of his record on civil rights and constitutional rights. The most recent organizations to announce their official opposition include the National Bar Association and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). A full listing of organizations opposing Charles Pickering's nomination as well as other Pickering-related information is available at


Brian Komar Peter Montgomery

202.466.1885 202.467-4999

NAACP Again Urges Senate To Reject Pickering Nomination

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) today urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The NAACP National Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution introduced by the 140-unit Mississippi Conference of Branches opposing the Pickering nomination. Additionally, the state conference of branches in Louisiana and Texas, which is part of the 5th Circuit, also oppose the nomination.
The resolution said in part: "Over his forty-year legal career, Judge Pickering has developed a very troubling civil rights record, concerning inter-racial marriage, voting rights and equal employment protections. Moreover, the resolution said: "Judge Pickering's hostility to civil and voting rights continued when he became a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. He has questioned the role of federal courts in enforcing voting rights and has openly criticized the one-person one-vote doctrine. Additionally, he has demonstrated a passionate reluctance to protect the rights of victims of employment discrimination."
Kathy Egland, a member of the NAACP Board of Directors and a resident of Gulfport, Mississippi, said: "This nomination represents retrogression on civil rights issues and opens a gateway of horror in our own backyard." Egland said the national news media "has distorted the level of support among Mississippi blacks for the judge." The Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches has called for the rejection of the Pickering nomination.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities and monitor equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
Contact: NAACP Office of Communications
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Old 03-14-2002, 01:37 PM
CrimsonTide4 CrimsonTide4 is offline
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For some reason when I merged it, the topic did not go to the top.
Thanks Soror JJSP01 for the update.
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Old 03-14-2002, 08:12 PM
Steeltrap Steeltrap is offline
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Senate nails Dubya

News Home - Yahoo! - Help

Senate Panel Rejects Pickering
Thu Mar 14, 6:40 PM ET
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) voted along party lines Thursday to kill the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the appeals court, handing President Bush (news - web sites) a stinging defeat in a racially-charged confirmation battle.

In a series of roll calls, the panel also snubbed Bush's request to allow a vote in the full Senate on Pickering, a 64-year-old Mississippian with more than a decade on the bench.

Pickering does not have "the temperament, the moderation or the commitment to core constitutional ... protections that is required for a life tenure position" on the appeals court," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, one of an unbroken string of committee Democrats to argue against confirmation.

Republicans were equally united in their support of Pickering. Sen. Orrin Hatch (news), R-Utah, argued that Bush's nominee had been victimized by a smear campaign by liberal interest groups seeking to impose "an ideological litmus test" on abortion, civil rights and other issues.

The committee's actions left the nomination all but dead. The GOP leader, Sen. Trent Lott (news) — Pickering's friend and Mississippi patron — has authority to seek a vote by the full Senate, but such efforts are customarily settled on party-line votes.

Supporters and opponents of Pickering's confirmation filled the large committee room. Supporters wore pink badges that said "Stop the Bickering Confirm Pickering."

The debate, which stretched over more than four hours, ranged far from Pickering's case. Republicans noted — with dissatisfaction — numerous public predictions that the confirmation battle was a warm-up for any Supreme Court nominations that Bush might make.

Democrats repeatedly accused Republicans of mistreating many of the nominations made by former President Clinton (news - web sites), to the point of denying hearings for months at a time.

Pickering was not present, but his son, Rep. Charles Pickering (news), R-Miss., had a seat in the front row of the spectators section. "What is happening to your father today is a great injustice," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (news), R-Ky., addressing his remarks to the young congressman.

Bush made a few late calls on behalf of his beleaguered nominee in the run-up to the committee meeting, but there was no indication that Democrats were wavering in their plan to deny Pickering a floor vote.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters the president was "asking us to break a 200-year tradition" of Senate committees holding jurisdiction and responsibility for approving nominations. "I don't know that we can do that," he said.

"By failing to allow full Senate votes on judicial nominees, a few senators are standing in the way of justice," Bush had said.

Democrats "seek to undermine the nominations of candidates who agree with my philosophy that judges should interpret the law and not try to make law from the bench," the president said at his news conference a little less than 24 hours before the committee met.

The debate Thursday unfolded along party lines, and it seemed at times as though there were two nominees up for confirmation.

The committee chairman, Patrick Leahy, said Pickering "repeatedly injects his own opinions into his decisions on issues ranging from employment discrimination to voting rights."

Other Democrats referred to a case in which Pickering had sought a lighter sentence for a defendant on a cross-burning case — a case that Republicans said was misinterpreted by the judge's critics.

Democrats said Pickering's ruling in voting rights cases had been overturned by the appeals court. Republicans countered the reversal had to do with attorney fees, not the merits of the case.

Sen. Charles Grassley (news), R-Iowa, praised Pickering for "moral courage on the issue of race," demonstrated in 1967 when he testified against a Ku Klux Klan leader in Mississippi.

Much of the opposition to Pickering, 64, has come from civil rights groups, which say he supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi. Pickering's opponents also point to his conservative voting record as a Mississippi state lawmaker and decisions as a judge.

Supporters, including some Mississippi Democrats and black leaders, cite numerous examples of support for civil rights as far back as the middle 1960s and note that Pickering won Senate confirmation in 1990 to be a U.S. District Court judge.

Forty of the 92 Bush judicial nominations have been confirmed by the Senate, most of them District court judges. Seven of Bush's 29 nominees to the U.S. Appeals Court, the regional courts one step below the Supreme Court, have been confirmed.

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Old 10-29-2003, 08:57 PM
Kimmie1913 Kimmie1913 is offline
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I do find it interesting the way the push for Pickering has not stopped. It is quite unusual to have some one nominated, shot down and then brought back for reconsideration.


DATE: October 29, 2003

TO: Concerned Parties

FROM: Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO

Hilary O. Shelton, Director, Washington Bureau

JUDICAL extremist Charles Pickering to be considered by the full senate


Contact both your Senators and Urge Them to oppose judge pickering’s confirmation to the fifth circuit court of appeals and to oppose cloture on his nomination. We need to contact all Senators, as this matter will soon be coming before the full US Senate.

To contact your Senators you may:

Make a Phone Call:
Call your Senators in Washington by dialing the Capitol Switchboard and asking to be transferred to your Senators' offices. The switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121 (see message section, below).

Send a Fax
If you would like to send a fax, call your Senators’ offices (through the Capitol switchboard) and ask for their fax numbers (you can use either the attached sample letter or the message box, below).

To address the letter, you say:
The Honorable (name of Senator)

U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Send an E-Mail
To send an e-mail to your Senators, simply go to, and click on “Contacting the Senate”; you can look your Senators up either alphabetically or by state.

Unfortunately, not all Members of Congress have e-mail addresses.


We must defeat cloture (the motion to end debate)

on this nomination in the Senate


If you have any questions, call Hilary Shelton at the Washington Bureau at (202) 638-2269(date)

The Honorable ___________________________
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: Opposition to Charles Pickerings’ renomination to the 5th
Circuit court of appeals

Dear Senator ________________________________________;

I write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to oppose the nomination of Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Specifically, I strongly urge you to oppose his nomination and to oppose cloture on this nomination if and when it comes to the Senate floor.

Despite the decision last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee that Judge Charles Pickering’s record demonstrated that he is unqualified for a lifetime seat on the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, President Bush has re-nominated him for the same position on the same court. Over his forty-year legal career, Judge Pickering has compiled a very problematic record on civil rights. In 1959, Judge Pickering wrote a law review article advocating for the correction of a loophole in Mississippi’s miscegenation statute, which imposed criminal penalties for violating the ban on interracial marriage. The loophole had been successfully used to obtain the reversal of a conviction of an African American woman who cohabitated with a white male. At the time of his article, a national trend had begun toward repealing these insidious statutes, and the criminal penalties for violating Mississippi’s miscegenation law were the toughest in the country. Nine months after the publication of the Pickering article, the Mississippi legislature amended the miscegenation statute in accordance with Pickering’s recommendation.

In a 1994 case, Judge Pickering refused to enforce a five-year sentence after a predominantly white jury from Southern Mississippi convicted a cross-burner of three federal civil rights violations. Despite the evidence at trial, Judge Pickering believed this individual was not guilty ENOUGH to warrant this sentence. In fact he successfully cajoled the Justice Department into dropping some of the charges, he threatened to hold a new trial, ordered the attorneys to notify the Attorney General about the case, and conducted an unethical conversation with a high official in the Justice Department, violating section 3.A.4 of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges.

Judge Pickering’s hostility toward voting rights even continued when he became a federal district judge, as he has questioned the role of federal courts in enforcing federal voting rights laws and has openly criticized policies as fundamental to our democracy as the one-person-one-vote doctrine. Judge Pickering’s record clearly indicates an hostility towards civil right and equal justice laws for African Americans and other racial minorities in Mississippi, a state where African-Americans are, according to the 2000 Census, 36.6% of the population-the largest African American population in any state.

Accordingly, I hope that you will take these concerns seriously and oppose Judge Pickering’s nomination. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that all Americans have a high level of confidence and trust in our federal courts.

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be sure to include your address)
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Old 01-19-2004, 06:01 PM
Honeykiss1974 Honeykiss1974 is offline
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Bush puts Pickering on appeals court
Bush bypasses Democrats who had blocked judge

WASHINGTON (AP) --President Bush bypassed Congress and installed Charles Pickering on the federal appeals court Friday in an election-year slap at Democrats who had blocked the nomination for more than two years.

Bush installed Pickering by a recess appointment, which avoids the confirmation process. Such appointments are valid until the next Congress takes office, in this case in January 2005.

Pickering, a federal trial judge whom Bush nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, has been waiting for a confirmation vote in the Senate.

"I'm grateful to the president for his continued confidence and support," Pickering told The Associated Press from his home in Mississippi. "I look forward to serving on the 5th Circuit."

Democrats have accused Pickering of supporting segregation as a young man, and promoting anti-abortion and anti-voting rights views as a state lawmaker.

They also have said they wouldn't be able to trust him to keep his conservative opinions out of his work on the federal appeals court.

The 5th Circuit handles appeals from Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, and the federal judges on that circuit have been trailblazers on desegregation and voting rights in the past.

Pushing for Pickering's confirmation last year, Bush said, "He is a good, fair-minded man, and the treatment he has received by a handful of senators is a disgrace. He has wide bipartisan support from those who know him best."

Democrats have used the threat of a filibuster to block four U.S. Appeals Court nominees this congressional term: Pickering, Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Texas judge Priscilla Owen and Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada. Others, including California judges Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown, are expected to be blocked by Democrats as well.

Frustrated at the delays, Estrada withdrew his nomination in September. (Full story)

Pickering's nomination had sparked one of the most contentious battles between Republicans and Democrats over the federal courts.

He was the first of Bush's nominees to be blocked by Democrats, while they controlled the Senate in 2001, and his chances of getting through the Senate waned with the resignation of then-Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, over racially insensitive statements about the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Pickering, however, refused to step aside and continued to try to build up support in the South. He strongly denied allegations of racial insensitivity.

"For 25 years I have strongly advocated that African-Americans and whites should sit down and talk in a positive and constructive manner to try to promote better understanding. This I've done," Pickering said after a meeting with the Mississippi Black Caucus last year.

Republicans concentrated on other nominees like Estrada and Owen, but always promised to get back to Pickering.

During Pickering's nomination hearing, Republicans accused Democrats of being religiously biased against Bush's anti-abortion nominees, a theme they continued with Estrada and other Bush anti-abortion nominees.


Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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