- The Washington Times - Monday, March 11, 2002

Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, yesterday denied that he is using his vocal opposition to the nomination of U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to maneuver himself into the national political spotlight.
"That's nonsense," Mr. Edwards said yesterday when Tony Snow, host of "Fox News Sunday," asked him about an item in The Washington Times in which an unnamed Judiciary Committee staffer said Mr. Edwards believed the Pickering nomination fight "could make him a star."
Mr. Edwards is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the Democratic majority has blocked Judge Pickering's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Democratic staffer's remarks, quoted Feb. 25 in Greg Pierce's Inside Politics column, first appeared in the Prowler column at www.americanprowler.org.
"Senator, a lot of people think that this is all about you trying to make your bones with Democrats," said Mr. Snow, who challenged the accuracy of some of the negative statements Mr. Edwards made about Judge Pickering's record at a confirmation hearing.
Mr. Edwards countered that most Americans "don't have any idea of who Judge Pickering is or what's going on with the Senate Judiciary Committee."
However, on Feb. 27, the Charlotte News and Observer reported that several days after Mr. Edwards "belittled" Judge Pickering at the confirmation hearing, he "touted his tough position during a political appearance in California that was designed to showcase him as a potential 2004 presidential candidate."
Mr. Edwards has repeatedly said Judge Pickering acted improperly as an "advocate" on behalf of a convicted defendant in a cross-burning case. Mr. Edwards has said the judge told lawyers in a closed-door meeting he would order a new trial for the defendant if a motion to that effect was made, even though he did not believe the law would support such a move.
Judge Pickering has denied saying that. Mr. Edwards admitted on "Fox News Sunday" there is no official record of this purported conversation, only written statements by the lawyers in attendance. "That's uncorroborated testimony," said Mr. Snow.
Mr. Edwards yesterday repeated his claim that the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed Judge Pickering's rulings 15 times for his "failure to follow well-established principles of law."
"You and I know that's not the case," Mr. Snow told Mr. Edwards. "What they said is they did reversals without providing opinions."
The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the Pickering nomination Thursday. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a member of the committee, has said the nomination will be defeated 10-9 by the Democrat-dominated panel and will not be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
Liberal organizations, led by People for the American Way, have accused Judge Pickering of opposing civil rights. "This is not fair to Judge Pickering," Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday."
Judge Pickering has "been mischaracterized," Mr. Lott said. "This is a classic case of destroying someone's character … and part of a concerted effort to keep conservative judges off the bench."
Mr. Lott said he will ask the Judiciary Committee to allow the full Senate to consider the nomination. "I think he'd be confirmed in a full vote in the Senate," he said.


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