The Congressional Black Caucus, LA Times, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution have joined the Feminist Majority, along with a coalition of other progressive and women’s rights groups, including Alliance for Justice, People for the American Way, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), Leadership Council on Civil Right (LCCR), and the National Abortion Federation (NAF), among others, to oppose the nomination of Charles Pickering, Sr. to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who is from Pickering’s home state of Mississippi, criticized the federal judge’s nomination saying that Pickering’s record made clear that “If you are female or a member of a racial minority, your issues are likely to be frowned upon.” Thompson continued, “I don’t feel as seat of the Fifth Circuit should be a reward for hostility towards women and minorities.” Pickering has supported a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal, has opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, and has criticized remedies provided by the Voting Rights Act to redress discrimination against African-American voters. As a State Senator, Pickering also voted in favor of funding for the notorious Mississippi Sovereignty Committee, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has labeled a “segregationist organization.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls Pickering’s nomination “a mockery of the bipartisan cooperation that [President Bush] has touted since September 11.” The LA Times goes even further, suggesting that Pickering is an extremist reactionary incapable of serving as a fair-minded judge. According to the LA Times, Pickering’s “tendency to interject his personal opinions, biblical quotations and other extralegal materials into judicial opinion demonstrates that he lacks the open mind and equanimity that Americans require of their judges.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding its confirmation hearing on Judge Pickering today. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is a strong supporter and ally of Pickering despite the growing opposition to his nomination.