Friday, June 26, 2009

Pickering to Speak to Laurel Tea Party 6/30

Judge Charles Pickering will be the keynote speaker at "Tea Party II: Spirit of 1176" on June 30 at 6pm at the Jones County Courthouse in Laurel, Mississippi. The Hattiesburg American reports:
The event is sponsored by the 912 Project of Jones County, a non-partisan political group that advocates a return to principles and values in government. It is open to the public.

Pickering has served as Laurel city prosecutor, a state senator, president of the Mississippi Southern Baptist Convention and a federal judge.

He authored "Supreme Chaos: The Politics of Judicial Confirmation & the Culture War" and "A Price Too High: The Judiciary in Jeopardy."
For more information on the event: 912 Project Hattiesburg

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jacoby on Race in Judicial Confirmations

In today's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby points out the dangers in accusing someone of racial insensitivity pertaining to the Sotomayor nomination, and uses Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Charles Pickering as examples.
The same malice would be visited subsequently on other conservative judges nominated by Republican presidents. In 1991, Clarence Thomas was slimed as a traitor to his race for having married a white woman, and as a mouthpiece for white supremacists. "If you gave Clarence Thomas a little flour on his face," declared Carl Rowan, "you'd think you had David Duke talking." Judge Charles Pickering, a longtime advocate of racial reconciliation, was defamed by Senator John Kerry in 2002 as a "forceful advocate for a cross-burner" and by Senator Charles Schumer for his "glaring racial insensitivity."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pickering on Radio

Judge Charles Pickering will be appear on "On Deadline with Sid Salter" today on Supertalk Mississippi to discuss the Sotomayor nomination. Salter's show is 4-6pm central and you can listen at online.

Alito, Estrada, Pickering & Sotomayor

This week I wrote about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination and hope Republicans use it as an opportunity to make two contrasts: 1) of judicial philosophies 2) of confirmation processes. Regardless of whether the Republicans will vote against her and whether they could stop her confirmation, they should exaimine her and vote accordingly, but do so in a manner that shows dignity and civility, unlike how Democrats treated Judge Charles Pickering. The spiral of disrespect must stop somewhere, Republicans should have it stop with them. Here is an excerpt from the column:
If Sotomayor believes a justice should drop the scales and pick up the legislative pen and make policy, then Republicans and Democrats alike should oppose her encroachment across the separation of powers and her disregard for the rule of law.

I doubt any Democrats will do so, and I hope Republicans will do so properly.

I would be embarrassed if during her questioning, Republicans dragged Sotomayor through the dirt and treated her like Democrats treated Samuel Alito, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following Senator Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass) interrogation and accusations against him, Alito's wife had to leave the room in tears.

I would be agitated if Republicans mounted a process fight, attempting to bottle her in committee or filibuster her on the Senate floor like the Democrats did to Miguel Estrada, whom Bush nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Constitution gives the President the power by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to appoint federal judges. As a nominee, she should have a hearing and she should have a vote. If Republicans want time to debate, they should exercise those prerogatives, but not abuse them to obstruct her nomination.

I would be frustrated if Republican Senators accused her of racism, like Democratic Senators did to Charles Pickering, whom Bush appointed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some Democrats were "kinder" just saying that Pickering was "racially insensitive." Certainly had Pickering said a white man could usually make a better decision than a Latina woman, he would have been castigated by vitriolic Democrats. I hope Republicans show more class.

Republicans should treat Sotomayor with dignity in the committee, give her an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and refrain from character assassinations. If they do conclude she will not rule according to the word and intent of the Constitution, they should vote against her.

Republicans may not be able to prevent Sotomayor's confirmation, but they can demonstrate in the process a more respectful and responsible way of conducting the Senate than their Democratic colleagues.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Charen on Sotomayor and Pickering

Mona Charen looks at the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and reminds us of the nomination of Charles Pickering: "It's Not Fair Casually to Call People Racist".
The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has already achieved a boon for our political culture: It has helped leading liberals and Democrats to discover that being tarred as a racist on flimsy grounds is unfair and deeply unpleasant. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D., Calif.) for example, when asked on Face the Nation to respond to Rush Limbaugh’s and Newt Gingrich’s comments about Sotomayor, said, “That’s an absolutely terrible thing to throw around. Based on that statement — that one word ‘better than’ [sic] — to call someone a racist is just terrible and I would hope that Republicans would not do this.”

Senator Feinstein was right as far she went. She avoided one undeniable fact, though. If a white-male nominee had been discovered to have said something similar — that he was better situated to judge due to his background and life experiences than a Latina woman was — he would be cashiered so fast as to induce whiplash. Those are the unwritten rules that Limbaugh and Gingrich are attempting, one suspects, to expose for their one-sidedness. Nevertheless, the instant labeling of the woman, based on one unwise remark, is hardly fair. If Democrats are learning this now, that’s excellent news. One hopes they will remember this discovery when the wheel turns and a Republican nominee is before the Senate. Certainly they didn’t seem to get it as recently as 2002, when President Bush nominated Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Then-majority leader Tom Daschle (D., S.D.) said Judge Pickering had displayed an “insensitivity to civil rights, to equal rights, especially to minorities. . . . This [nomination] lays bare the administration’s real position on civil rights.” Leading liberal newspapers tolled the bell with headlines like “Extremist Judge Unfit to Sit on Appeals Court” in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and “Say No to This Throwback” in the Los Angeles Times.

The Democrats succeeded in torpedoing Pickering’s nomination — not to mention assassinating his character. More than “insensitive,” he was called a crypto-racist with a “segregationist past” (Paul Krugman). When President Bush offered Judge Pickering a recess appointment to avoid a Senate filibuster, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) breathed fire: “Here we are, on the weekend before a national holiday when we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, and George W. Bush celebrates it by appointing Charles Pickering, a known forceful advocate for a cross-burner in America, to the federal court of the United States.”

In point of fact, Judge Pickering had been a friend to civil rights throughout his career. To its credit, the New York Times actually quoted longtime associates of the judge and members of the black community in Pickering’s hometown who “overwhelmingly support his nomination . . . and admire his efforts at racial reconciliation.” The black chairman of the city council told the Times, “I can’t believe the man they’re describing in Washington is the same one I’ve known for years.” They recalled that as a young prosecutor in 1967, Pickering had endangered his career (and perhaps more) by testifying in court against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He was known for hiring black staffers at a time when few white Mississippians did. Pickering encouraged the chancellor of University of Mississippi to form the Institute for Racial Reconciliation and served on its board for many years. Pickering, unlike some white southerners (and many Democrats currently serving in Congress) chose to send his children to integrated public schools.

Pickering did preside over the trial of three young men who burned a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. Byron York’s excellent account in National Review reveals that Pickering was dismayed by the Justice Department’s decision to negotiate plea bargains with two of the defendants (including the one Pickering regarded as the ringleader) and recommend no jail time for them, while asking for seven and a half years for the remaining defendant. One of those permitted to plea to a misdemeanor by Justice was clearly a racist who had earlier shot a gun into a black man’s home, gotten into fights with black students at school, and convinced his drunk comrades to burn the cross. Pickering did not think it was just to let him off and sentence the other defendant, for whom this was a first offense, to more than seven years. He sentenced him to 27 months, admonishing the defendant that “the type of conduct you exhibited cannot and will not be tolerated. . . . I would suggest to you that during the time you’re in prison that you do some reading on race relations and maintaining good race relations and how that can be done.”

Yet, without blushing, John Kerry transmogrified Judge Pickering into “a forceful advocate for a cross burner.”

Judge Sonia Sotomayor deserves careful vetting by the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She may or may not deserve their vote. But those Republicans should seize this teachable moment to remember all of the fine candidates — Pickering, Miguel Estrada, Robert Bork — and many more who were so shamefully treated by the Democrats who have suddenly discovered the evil of baseless accusations.