Judiciary Committee was Right to Reject Pickering and Owen

President Bush's Renomination of Rejected Right-Wing Nominees Shows Ideology, Not Adherence to Law, is Top Criterion for Bush Judges

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. Neas released two reports summarizing the case against the Pickering and Owen nominations, drawing on the nominees’ public records and their answers to questions raised at their confirmation hearings. Neas said People For the American Way will be releasing reports on other troubling appellate court nominees in the near future.

“What President Bush is saying is that he wants judges who are committed to upholding the law,” said Neas. “But what President Bush is doing is pushing judges with a track record of trying to bend the law to fit their own beliefs.”

Neas said that while many of the judicial nominees President Bush has sent to the Senate have disturbing records, the renomination of Pickering and Owen is particularly outrageous. He called on senators to reject their confirmations and to reject any judicial nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to upholding the principles and precedents that protect Americans’ rights and freedoms.

“While President Bush has claimed to be a ‘uniter not a divider,’ he is deliberately provoking divisive controversy by renominating judges who were rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee after in-depth public hearings on their records and approach to judging,” Neas said. “To our knowledge, no President has ever before renominated a judicial nominee to the same position for which that nominee had been rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Neas predicted that President Bush would make a public appeal on behalf of his judicial nominees during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

“Americans should listen carefully to what President Bush says about his judicial nominees and look for themselves at the kinds of judges he is nominating,” Neas said. “They should then consider the impact of a federal judiciary dominated by judges whose commitment to right-wing ideology trumps the law, and who would effectively turn back the clock on decades of legal principles and precedents that protect civil rights, the environment, reproductive rights and privacy, worker and consumer safety and health, religious liberty, and more.”

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