Charles Pickering’s Record, Not Trent Lott’s Pressure, Is the Issue

Media 10.30.03

WASHINGTON – Responding to news of an intense lobbying effort of his fellow senators by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) in support of Judge Charles Pickering’s appeals court nomination, Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, today urged senators not to give in to Lott’s pressure, but to examine Pickering’s flawed record.

“Last year on the occasion of Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday, Senator Lott, the former Senate Majority Leader, applauded Thurmond’s 1948 run for the presidency and stated that if the country had followed Mississippi’s lead and elected him, ‘we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years,'” observed Henderson.

“Now, Senator Lott wants his Senate colleagues to follow his lead and vote to confirm President Bush’s nomination of Charles Pickering for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,” said Henderson.

“Judge Pickering’s hostility to civil rights enforcement and civil rights plaintiffs are what disqualify him for this position,” continued Henderson. “While it may come as no surprise that Senator Lott feels comfortable with Judge Pickering’s record and nomination, senators should not be willing to vote for Pickering on Lott’s say so, but rather should closely examine his judicial record,” Henderson continued.

“And that record speaks for itself. It is filled with hostility toward the enforcement of civil rights laws, voting rights laws, and laws that protect average people, including workers and women,” added Henderson.

“The issue is clear. President Bush wants to pack the courts with nominees with extremist views who support the rollback of civil rights progress. Judge Pickering is one of those nominees,” concluded Henderson.

Judge Pickering has:

  • expressed disapproval of the effects of the Voting Rights Act and the “one person, one vote” doctrine;

  • supported measures that have helped perpetuate voting discrimination against African-Americans;

  • as a state senator, voted in favor of a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to consider an amendment to ban race-based school desegregation orders;

  • harshly complained about “the side effects resulting from anti-discrimination laws,” which he suggested caused people “covered by such laws” to “spontaneously react that discrimination caused” any adverse action against them;

  • revealed a strong bias against plaintiffs who bring Title VII employment discrimination cases to his court; and

  • gone to extraordinary lengths to reduce a mandatory jail sentence for a convicted cross burner.