Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe Biden's role in Pickering's confirmation

Now that Senator Joe Biden (D-Del) has been selected to run for Vice-President on the Democratic ticket, it is a good time to revisit his role in the confirmation battles over Judge Charles Pickering. My column this week in the Neshoba Democrat discusses Biden's role as recounted in Pickering's two books. Here are some excerpts of the column:
Pickering needed a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote to send his nomination (with a positive, neutral, or even negative recommendation) to the full Senate. Later, Pickering needed Democrats to stand against unprecedented filibusters, even if they ultimately voted against him. Both times, Biden made overtures he would help Pickering; both times, Biden folded under political pressure.

A number of Mississippians were close to Biden, his staff, and his brother Jim. Former Governor William Winter and other supporters planned a trip to visit Biden in Washington DC to discuss the Pickering nomination. Biden sent word the trip was unnecessary. Pickering thought this a positive development, until the next shoe dropped: the Democratic offer of an unacceptable deal.

Judge Pickering's son, Congressman Chip Pickering, was in a redistricting fight which combined his district with that of Congressman Ronnie Shows. How the district was drawn would determine advantage in the election between the incumbents. Word came that Biden's vote could come more easily, if Chip would not oppose the Democrats' redistricting plan, and would guarantee Pickering's replacement on the federal district bench would be black.

Judge Pickering scoffed at the deal, "We quit child sacrifice a long time ago." He wrote, "There was no consideration of Chip caving on redistricting. There was no opposition to an African American as my replacement. I believe the Mississippi federal bench needs more diversity....There was a willingness for this to happen, but unwillingness to do a 'quid pro quo'."

Even without the deal, it seemed Biden might still be the necessary cross-over Democrat to get Pickering to the full Senate.

Biden claimed the White House was pressuring him and responded by opposing Pickering.

In his book, Pickering suggests other motives, "First, he wanted to preserve his option to run for president... he didn't want to be the only potential Democrat candidate for president to alienate the Far Left groups by helping get me to the floor. Second, he and his trial lawyer friends from Mississippi had a falling out, removing their influence in his decision-making."

Publically and privately, Biden did not believe Pickering a bad nomination. He rejected racial criticisms of Pickering as well as denying accusations of inequitable sentencing. In private, he told supporters he thought Pickering a good judge who deserved a vote. Biden even approached Senator Trent Lott and told him while he could not vote to confirm Pickering, he would vote to end a filibuster. Biden later confirmed this with the press.

When Republicans regained control of the Senate, Bush re-nominated Pickering, and his nomination went to the full Senate. Biden crawfished again. He claimed he couldn't support Pickering because the White House should not have re-nominated him after the committee failed to act the first time. How Biden expected to keep his commitment to Lott to oppose a filibuster of Pickering, without Pickering being re-nominated, is a question only a lawyer could love.

Biden bent to political pressure rather than doing what he thought was right. He chose party over principle. In the grand scheme, Pickering's nomination was a minor battle. But in the character of Joe Biden, we see a failure to exhibit the courage necessary to honor a commitment to do the right thing.
Read the full column here: Biden's role in Pickering ordeal

Friday, August 1, 2008

Judge Pickering to Deliver MC Commencement

Charles Pickering will deliver the summer commencement address at Mississippi College.
A former federal judge, author and longtime Republican Party leader, Jackson attorney Charles W. Pickering, Sr. will deliver the summer commencement address at Mississippi College. The August 2 graduation is scheduled at the A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Clinton campus. The event begins at 10 a.m.

It's quite an honor for Pickering to speak to MC's August graduates, said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs. "Charles Pickering is a dedicated Christian and distinguished jurist," he said. "His record of service, not only to his state and nation, but also to his church, is peerless."

MC supporters, Howard said, "are especially proud of Judge Pickering for his many efforts to advance racial reconciliation in Mississippi."
(Read the full MC press release here.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mississippi College Commencement Speaker

Judge Charles Pickering will be the commencement speaker for Mississippi College at the August 2 graduation at the A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Clinton campus.
It's quite an honor for Pickering to speak to MC's August graduates, said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs. "Charles Pickering is a dedicated Christian and distinguished jurist," he said. "His record of service, not only to his state and nation, but also to his church, is peerless." MC supporters, Howard said, "are especially proud of Judge Pickering for his many efforts to advance racial reconciliation in Mississippi."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Drake Law Review

Charles Pickering has written the foreword to the latest edition of the Drake Law Review: The Intersection of Personal Convictions and Federal Judicial Selection.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Obama Court

In my column today in the Madison County Journal, I write about the difference between a John McCain judiciary and a Barack Obama judiciary. Here is an excerpt:

Pickering, Wallace, and Southwick believe in the Constitution; they believe we are a nation of laws and not of men; they believe role of a judge is to interpret the laws and Constitution as written, and not to legislate from the bench or impose their own beliefs and values onto others through their rulings.

Senator John McCain shares that perspective.

Last week in a speech on his judicial philosophy delivered at Wake Forest University, McCain promised if elected President: "I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist - jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference. My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power, and clear limits to the scope of federal power. They will be men and women of experience and wisdom, and the humility that comes with both. They will do their work with impartiality, honor, and humanity, with an alert conscience, immune to flattery and fashionable theory, and faithful in all things to the Constitution of the United States."

Sen. Barack Obama, who appears to be inching toward the Democratic nomination, told a very different philosophy to CNN in a recent interview: "What you're looking for is somebody who is going to apply the law where it's clear. Now there's gonna be those five percent of cases or one percent of cases where the law isn't clear. And the judge has to then bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings. And in those circumstance what I do want is a judge who is sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power and as a consequence can't protect themselves from being being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for justice. That's been its historic role. That was its role in Brown v. Board of Education."

Obama is a former constitutional law professor. He knows what he is saying. Obama believes a judge should interpret vague laws based on his own opinions, his own ethics, his own values, and weight those beliefs in favor of the underdog. That is the essence of liberal judicial activism.

Judges appealing to their own perspectives, ethics, and morals ruled in Dredd Scott v Sandford that blacks were not citizens; and judges seeking the law in themselves - as Obama advocates - ruled in Plessy v Ferguson to create separate but equal policies.

Some may say it is absurd to put Obama on the same side as these horrendous Supreme Court rulings. However, if activist judges had not ignored originalism in the former, nor disregarded the Fourteenth Amendment in the latter, America's journey to equality would have been achieved earlier.

When we become a nation of men and not laws, even if those men have good intentions, we have injustice.

You can read the full column here: PERRY/Exercising judicial restraint

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pickering on McCain's "Gang of 14"

The Republican National Lawyers Association and Southern Appeal both mention Judge Pickering's view on the Gang of 14.

There is no way you can look at that agreement as a Democratic victory. Two days after the Deal was announced, Owen was confirmed by the Senate. Two weeks later, Brown was confirmed, and the next day the Senate confirmed Pryor. These confirmations were exactly what President Bush and the Republicans had tried to accomplish for five long years and the Democrats had blocked.

The confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Sam Alito --two exceptionally capable and conservative jurists-- were made relatively easy because of the "Gang of Fourteen Agreement."

Judge Pickering wrote extensively on the Gang of 14 in Supreme Chaos and while it wasn't an ultimate solution to the trench warfare over the judicial nominations, he did believe it to be a strategic no-lose situation for Republicans. The Gang of 14 Republicans agreed not to use the "Constitutional" or "nuclear" option and the Democrats agreed not to filibuster. But with no filibuster there was no occasion for Republicans to employ their parliamentary tactic. Pickering writes:

In a sense, the seven Republicans made an empty gesture in the agreement. If the Democrats did not filibuster, there would be no reason or occasion for the Republicans to vote for the constitutional option. In essence, the Republicans ceded nothing...But as a whole, the deal allowed the confirmation of Republican nominees and raised the filibuster threshold for the future...The American people and the Senate had grown tired of the special-interest groups fighting every day for five years to keep Bush's nominees off the Courts. And with the new Gang of 14 threshold in place, the climate of debate had changed.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Michelle Malkin speaks at Pickering Honors Institute

The Hattiesburg American notes that Michelle Malkin will be speaking at the The Charles Pickering Honors Institute at JCJC today.

The Charles Pickering Honors Institute and the Rho Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa invite you to hear Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnist, blogger and Fox News consultant, at 10:30 a.m. today in the Fine Arts Auditorium at Jones County Junior College. Malkin will speak on the war against terrorism and explain why she thinks our country is still vulnerable.