- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yesterday accused Democrats of playing politics with race, citing their threats to filibuster President Bush's renomination of a judge to the federal appeals court.
Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, blasted the Democrats' charges last week that the Mississippi judge's nomination shows that "the Southern strategy" is still alive in the White House. He also said he planned to support Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr.'s nomination to the federal appeals court based on his qualifications.
"I think this, unfortunately, is trying to use race and racial issues to play politics," Mr. Frist said of Democrats on "Fox News Sunday." "Judge Pickering is a well-qualified judge. The American Bar Association used those words, 'well-qualified.' I plan on supporting Pickering."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, meanwhile, renewed his party's pledge to try to block the nomination.
"I think this really lays bare the administration's real position on civil rights," Mr. Daschle said on ABC's "This Week." "This exposes the Southern strategy clearly. There is no doubt in my mind we now know from where they come. And we're going to do everything we can to stop that nomination, on the floor and in the committee, including a filibuster."
The judge's nomination was defeated 10-9 in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, when Democrats held a Senate majority. Civil rights groups said that Judge Pickering supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi, while others pointed to his conservative voting record as a state lawmaker and rulings as a judge.
"This man does not deserve to be in the second-highest court in the land, and we're going to do everything we can to stop it," Mr. Daschle said.
The renomination of Judge Pickering last week for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew filibuster threats from Senate Democrats, including some on the Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to send the nomination to the full Senate.
One committee member, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Judge Pickering showed "glaring racial insensitivity" in his handling of a 1994 case in which he sought a lighter sentence for a man accused of burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple.
Mr. Frist, however, said the Democrats were ignoring the judge's 1967 testimony against the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
While Republicans have an edge in the Senate, they don't have the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster without Democratic help.
"It'd be hard to get 60 votes," Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, said on CNN's "Late Edition." "But Judge Pickering has a good record. There are a lot of Democrats who are going to be for him. And I believe we ought to have an up-and-down vote on him."
In other developments, Mr. Frist predicted on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Congress would pass Mr. Bush's $674 billion economic-stimulus package, despite the criticism it has received from some key Republicans.
Mr. Frist said that Mr. Bush would have to sell his plan, but he did not rule out amendments to the package.
"Because it is a growth plan, it is a jobs-creation plan, it is a balanced plan that benefits all Americans," Mr. Frist said. "I'm absolutely convinced, because our economy is so sluggish with this jobless recovery, that it will pass with bipartisan support, just like the president's [2001] tax plan did."
Mr. Daschle, however, called the plan "very reckless" and said that many who supported the 2001 package now regret doing so because of the increasing federal budget deficits and the sluggish economy, which is cutting jobs.
"This is a stimulus for the rich and a sedative for the rest," he said on "This Week."

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