- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she anticipates all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will oppose the nomination of federal judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which case the panel will not move it to the Senate floor for a vote.
"I will not vote for him. … I believe that there is virtually unanimous opinion on the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee that he will not be confirmed. In other words, he will not be voted out of the Judiciary Committee," the California Democrat said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I've looked rather carefully at his background, and I think you have a person who has very strong right-wing views, both politically and personally. … I think that people on our side believe that it would be a tremendous mistake to put someone as polarizing in this position now. So I believe he will not be confirmed," she said.
Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, one of nine Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, said on the same talk show: "I think he should be confirmed … this is a good man that people are really trying to smear. … I think you're going to see a lot of people taking actions to try to move that [nomination] on forward some other way."
National organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP) and People for the American Way are waging a bitter campaign to block the promotion of Judge Pickering to the appeals court. They describe the white Republican, who sits on the U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg, Miss., as being anti-civil rights.
However, blacks who live in Judge Pickering's hometown of Laurel, Miss., deny those charges, citing work he has done to improve both educational and economic opportunities for low-income blacks. Even editorial writers for liberal newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post have expressed concern about the viciousness of the attack on the Pickering nomination.
On "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert read from an editorial in The Washington Post that said Judge Pickering's opponents "have tried to paint him as a barely reconstructive segregationist" and have "plucked a number of unconnected incidents from a long career" to arrive at that portrayal.
Asked about that, Mrs. Feinstein said she worries the judge might not be able to put aside his "very strong right-wing views" over the course of a lifetime appointment to the Fifth Circuit. "This is a very sensitive circuit. It represents people of color in a major way," she said.
The California Democrat pointed out that President Bush "did not have a large mandate" in the 2000 election. "There is no mandate to skew the courts to the right. And so I think you are going to see a Judiciary Committee that's really going to be looking for mainstream judges. And those judges that they find outside the mainstream I do not believe will have Democratic support."
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott has said Judge Pickering will be confirmed "or else."
Mr. Brownback said yesterday: "I would hope we wouldn't have a litmus test on judges," either from the "left or the right."

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