Civil Rights Coalition Calls Bush’s Appointment of Pickering Hypocritical

Categories: Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, inouye@civilrights.org

President Bush’s intemperate decision to give Charles Pickering a recess appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is an affront to all Americans who believe in civil rights and the integrity of the federal courts. Further, it is an insult to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King that the President announced the appointment on the day after he went to Atlanta to praise America’s foremost civil rights leader. Pickering’s appointment raises the question of how serious a commitment the President has to the enforcement of many of the laws that Dr. King helped to bring about.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, is profoundly disappointed that President Bush has put Pickering on the Fifth Circuit given his demonstrated hostility to civil rights laws and enforcement, including voting rights, school desegregation, and employment discrimination. Pickering’s enmity to the civil rights sought by Dr. King should not be rewarded by the elevation to any federal court of appeal, much less the Fifth Circuit, which has the largest percentage of minorities of any federal circuit court in the country.

LCCR supported the recess appointment of Roger Gregory in 2000 to the Fourth Circuit by President Clinton. Gregory’s elevation integrated the Fourth Circuit, which has the largest concentration of African Americans of any circuit, and placed an individual on the court with a commitment to civil rights. The Pickering appointment does nothing to add to the diversity on the Fifth Circuit and puts a judge on the court whose anti-civil rights views are well known.

The recess appointment of Pickering is another example of President Bush’s determination to pack the federal courts with right-wing extremist judges who are determined to erase the civil rights progress made over the last 50 years.