Opposing The Confirmation of Charles W. Pickering, Sr. to The United States Court Of Appeals For The Fifth Circuit

Pickering's Opposition to Women's Reproductive Rights

Pickering has long been a staunch opponent of a woman's right to reproductive freedom. In 1976, he was chair of the Human Rights and Responsibilities Subcommittee of the National Republican Party Platform Committee that approved a plank for the party platform protesting Roe "as an intrusion into the family structure" and supporting the efforts of those calling for a "right to life" amendment to the Constitution.[35] Pickering supported the Subcommittee's plank,[36] and in fact publicly announced before leaving Mississippi for the Republican Convention that he "would push for a platform with a statement against 'abortion on call.'"[37] Although the Republican Party today is well known for its opposition to reproductive choice in its platform, the 1976 Republican Party Platform was the first to oppose Roe v. Wade.

When he served in the Mississippi State Senate, Pickering voted for a resolution calling for a constitutional convention to propose a "human life" amendment to the Constitution.[38] In 1984, when Pickering was President of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, the Convention unanimously passed a resolution resolving to work for legislation prohibiting all abortions except to save the life of the woman,[39] as well as directing the Convention "to continue dealing with the issue of abortion by upholding the Christian views on human life." [40]

The Fifth Circuit has decided a number of cases restricting women's reproductive rights, and state legislatures within that jurisdiction continue to enact legislation seeking to limit reproductive freedom. See, e.g., Barnes v. State of Mississippi, 992 F.2d 1335 (5th Cir. 1993) (2-1 decision upholding state law requiring consent of both parents for a minor to receive an abortion). Especially for this reason, the proposed addition to that court of a judge with the views that Pickering has in opposition to women's reproductive freedom raises serious concerns.

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