[R-G] FWD from Julian Bond: Pickering Challenge
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 7 19:06:06 MST 2002
The Judiciary Committee has agreed to a one-week delay on the vote on
Charles Pickering in a desperate attempt to salvage the nomination of this
Please re-contact your Senators - both on the Committee and not - to insure
they remain firm in opposition to this candidate. He has a nearly
half-century record of opposition to basic justice. Like his sponsor,
Senator Trent Lott (R - Ms), he has consorted with segregationist groups. He
lied about it at his confirmation hearing in 1990, testifying he "never had
any contact with the State Sovereignty Commission", the state-sponsored
organization that attacked the civil rights movement with espionage and
As a law student, he encouraged the Mississippi legislature to heighten
punishment for interracial couples. As a State Senator and Judge, he was
hostile to protecting the voting rights of African-Americans.
Every NAACP Chapter in Mississippi opposes him. The NAACP State Conferences
in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana oppose him.
Please insure your Senator stands strong against this nominee.
GOP Delays Vote on Bush Nominee to Federal Appeals Court
By Jesse Holland
WASHINGTON - Republicans forced a one-week delay Thursday in a
racially-charged showdown over U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering's
nomination to the federal appeals court, hoping to stave off an embarrassing
defeat for President Bush.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, coupled his request for a delay with a withering
attack on "extreme left Washington special interest groups" that he said
were conducting a "lynching" designed to keep Bush's judicial nominees from
"They want activists on the bench who support their views, regardless of
the law," Hatch said.
Much of the opposition to Pickering has come from civil rights groups who
say he supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi. Supporters point
to numerous examples of support for civil rights as far back as the mid- to
Under Senate Judiciary Committee rules, any senator can gain a one-week
delay simply by asking for it.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the panel's chairman, said he remains opposed to
Pickering's nomination, a decision he said he made based on hearing
testimony and not on pressure from outside groups.
Still, in a remarkable disclosure, he said one outside group, which he did
not name, had called his office to say that "because I was Catholic, I was
having a religious test, applying a religious test on Charles Pickering." He
said a Jewish member of the committee also "got a phone call saying the
opposition was on religion."
Leahy called such tactics "distasteful."
It seemed unlikely a delay would change the minds of any of the Democratic
senators on the committee who were poised to scuttle Pickering's nomination
on a party-line vote.
But Republicans renewed their call to have the nomination be sent to the
Senate floor, where all 100 senators could vote, and where Pickering's
supporters say they could prevail.
Hatch's remark about a lynching echoed Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas's angry claim 11 years ago that he was the victim of a "high tech
lynching for uppity blacks." Thomas was ultimately confirmed over the
objections of liberals, but only after the committee agreed to send his
nomination to the floor.
Additionally, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Democrats were using
Pickering as a "warmup" for any nominees that Bush names to the Supreme
The committee delay came one day after Bush greeted Pickering and
supporters at the white House and accused Democrats of playing politics with
"I think the country is tired of people playing politics all the time in
Washington, and I believe that they're holding this man's nomination up for
political purposes," the president said in an Oval Office meeting with
Pickering would sit on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New
Orleans, which serves Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.
He has faced criticism from women's, civil rights and liberal groups, some
of the same factions likely to line up against a Bush pick to the Supreme
Senate Democrats have questioned Pickering about efforts to reduce the
sentence of a man convicted of burning a cross on an interracial couple's
lawn. They questioned him about his actions on abortion and voting rights as
a state senator and federal judge.
"It is very critical that the judicial nominees, especially for the appeals
and the Supreme Court positions, are people of moderate philosophical
temperament and have an impeccable past," Daschle said.
Bush shrugged off the criticism, noting that the former Mississippi
prosecutor easily won Senate confirmation in 1990 as a judge in a U.S.
District Court. He called Pickering a man who "respects the rights of all
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer shrugged off questions about
Pickering's views on race in the 1950s and 1960s. "If actions taken by
people 40 years ago were the criteria, there'd be some senators who are
voting on this nomination whose very history would come into play,"
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., was a member of the Ku Klux Klan before
coming to Congress in the 1950s; Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina waged
the longest filibuster in Senate history to oppose a 1957 civil rights bill
and ran for president as a segregationist.
The two men have since supported civil rights and hired black staff
members. Thurmond is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Byrd is
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