a Good Old Boy
National Bar Association, the Mexican-American Legal Defense
and Education Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force are just a few of the groups to recently come out in
opposition to President George W. Bush’s nomination of Charles
Pickering to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Advocates for civil rights are pointing to Pickering’s conservative
record on such issues as voting rights, employment discrimination
and abortion to show his hostility to civil and constitutional
has an abominable record and must not be confirmed for a lifetime
judicial appointment,” said Heidi Siegfried, President for
the Albany Area National Organization for Women. “We are looking
at all of these circuit-court nominations because the Supreme
Court takes fewer and fewer cases, and much of the law gets
made at the circuit-court level.”
Siegfried pointed out that Pickering, who has served as a
U.S. District Court Judge for the southern district of Mississippi
since 1990, proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortion
while he served in the U.S. Senate between 1972 and 1980.
He also voted against measures that would have expanded electoral
opportunities for African-Americans, even after the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. When he was in law school in 1959, he
even wrote a potential loophole for Mississippi law, which
would allow the state to criminally prosecute anyone whose
spouse was of a different race.
Last Thursday, shortly before the United States Senate Judiciary
Committee was to vote on Pickering’s nomination, Sen. Orrin
Hatch (R- Utah) delayed the vote.
The Judiciary Committee is composed of 19 members, nine Republicans
and 10 Democrats. If the committee votes in favor of Pickering,
then his nomination will go to the Senate floor for a full
vote. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi)
told the Associated Press that the Republicans would use this
extra week to try to sway at least one Democrat to vote in
favor of Pickering. Right now, Pickering likely would be defeated
10-9 in a committee vote with all Democrats opposing him.
But civil rights activists are using this week to their advantage,
as well, by bombarding their elected officials with e-mails,
phone calls and letters urging them to block Pickering’s nomination.
Sandra Jaribu Hill, executive director of the Mississippi
Workers for Human Rights, said the Fifth Circuit has the largest
minority population in the country. If elected, Pickering
would serve this circuit, which consists of Texas, Louisiana
the nomination of Pickering, Bush has once again thumbed his
nose at African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities,”
said Hill. “It is crucial that the judges be extremely sensitive
to the civil rights and concerns of these populations.”