- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday expressed "grave disappointment" in President Bush for renominating for federal district and appellate judgeships some candidates already rejected by a Senate committee especially federal district Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr.
"We are deeply concerned that Judge Pickering's record reflects a continuing judicial insensitivity even hostility toward key principles and remedies that safeguard the civil rights of all Americans," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the caucus, at a press conference yesterday.
Judge Pickering's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was defeated last year on a party-line vote by the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Bush renominated him on Tuesday, along with 30 other judicial nominees who never received a full Senate vote.
Mr. Cummings said the president's actions "fail to live up to" the "healing words" he used weeks ago when he condemned comments made by Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, that were widely viewed as nostalgic for segregation at a 100th-birthday party for now-retired Sen. Strom Thurmond.
Republicans say Democrats have distorted Judge Pickering's record, and note that he has received a "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association. They praised the president for renominating him and others.
A Senate Republican aide said the action "demonstrated that the president is not going to back down to these false attacks by Democrats on the nominee's character" and is "willing to fight" for his nominees.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, said Judge Pickering has questioned the role of federal courts in enforcing voting rights, criticized the one-person, one-vote doctrine and demonstrated a "passionate reluctance to protect the rights of victims of employment discrimination."
Mr. Cummings said many of the president's nominees "appear to have demonstrated the same kind of insensitivity" they accuse Judge Pickering of.
The caucus does not expect to oppose all of the nominees, but will be reviewing each of their records and will present concerns to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in late January, Mr. Cummings said.
They also expect to meet soon with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, he said.
On Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee including Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts pledged to do everything within their power, including a filibuster, to block Judge Pickering's nomination from being confirmed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The list sent to the Senate Tuesday also includes the renomination of Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Her nomination was also rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, and is likely to prompt similar Democratic opposition this year.
Mr. Cummings said "we have our concerns" with the Owen nomination, but that they would review her record along with the others. He noted the caucus will consider nominees' records on issues besides civil rights.

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