Judge Charles Pickering, who was defeated in Committee on a straight party-line vote in March 2002, will be reconsidered by the now Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee in the next few weeks. Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) renewed his commitment to holding a hearing on Pickering’s nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals amid small signs of wavering opposition, Roll Call reported. Republicans claim they can secure the 60 votes needed to bypass a filibuster promised by Democrats. In fact, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Pickering’s chief proponent in the Senate, asserted that he expects Pickering to be voted out of committee with bi-partisan support. The Roll Call article went on to report that Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, recently said, “I’m re-evaluating (my opposition to) Pickering.”
The Feminist Majority joins a large coalition of women’s and civil rights groups in opposition to Pickering’s nomination because of the Mississippi judge’s anti-women and anti-civil rights background. Pickering has a long history of voting against women. As a state Senator, Pickering supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion and chaired the subcommittee of the National Republican Party that in 1976 approved a plank calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to make abortion illegal. Pickering has opposed the Equal Rights Amendment and as a district court judge, criticized remedies provided by the Voting Rights Act to redress discrimination against African-American voters.
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