Republicans Push Pickering Nomination to Senate Floor Despite Dismal Record on Constitutional and Civil Rights

Senate Judiciary Committee Voted Nomination Down Last Year

On a party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee today sent to the Senate floor the nomination of Charles Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The vote came despite Pickering’s well-documented record of hostility toward civil rights, reproductive choice and access to justice and the rejection of his nomination by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.

“Pickering’s record hasn’t changed since last year. Only the committee has,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “Far from reflecting the commitment to fundamental constitutional and civil rights principles that should be required of federal judicial nominees, Pickering’s record, especially as a judge, demonstrates insensitivity and hostility toward key legal principles protecting the civil and constitutional rights of minorities, women, and all Americans.”

For example, Pickering’s record as a judge includes what the NAACP has called a “troubling anti- civil rights pattern” of such conduct as severely criticizing key civil rights principles and disparaging plaintiffs in civil rights cases. Pickering’s rulings in a number of cases involving constitutional and other issues have been reversed by even conservative appellate court judges for violating “well-settled principles of law.” In addition, Pickering has engaged as a judge in what several legal ethics experts called unethical conduct in seeking a more lenient sentence for a defendant convicted in a cross-burning case.

“Despite President Bush’s frequent claim that he is a ‘uniter, not a divider,’ he re-nominated Judge Pickering to the Fifth Circuit in an unprecedented move, and now Republicans have pushed his nomination to the Senate floor,” said Neas. “This is yet another example of the administration’s effort to promote right-wing domination of the federal courts.” Neas called on senators to take all appropriate action on the Senate floor to prevent Pickering’s confirmation.

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