Report of People For the American Way
in Opposition to the Confirmation of
Jeffrey Sutton to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The Senate Judiciary Committee was right to reject the confirmation of Judge Charles Pickering and Justice Priscilla Owen to lifetime seats on the federal appeals courts last year, said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas.
n March 14, 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected President Bush’s nomination of Mississippi federal district court judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr., championed by Senator Trent Lott, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Committee’s decision to reject Pickering’s lifetime elevation to the powerful Court of Appeals followed an exhaustive examination of Pickering’s record, scrutiny that produced disturbing conclusions. Pickering’s record, both before and since he became a judge, demonstrates insensitivity and hostility toward key legal principles protecting the civil and constitutional rights of minorities, women, and all Americans. As a judge, Pickering in a number of instances has allowed his own beliefs to trump his responsibility to follow the law. And his decisions as a judge have been reversed on a number of occasions by conservative appellate court judges for disregarding controlling precedent on constitutional rights and for improperly denying people access to the courts.
Why the Senate Judiciary Committee made the right decision when they rejected the confirmation of Priscilla Owen to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said that Sen. Orrin Hatch’s recent speech on the Senate floor repeatedly denouncing People For the American Way and describing the Federalist Society as a group of lawyers concerned only with encouraging debate on legal issues was “unfortunate, unfair, and inaccurate.” Neas released a letter to Sen. Hatch as well as a recently updated copy of a People For the American Way Foundation report on the Federalist Society, which examines the group’s influence on the Bush administration’s judicial selection process.