LETTERS

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January 14, 2003

Letter to the Editor

Bush right to renominate Pickering

To the Editor:

Joshua Steinman's ramblings ("Bush's Southern Strategy," January 10) condemning President Bush for re-nominating Charles Pickering to a federal judgeship are so full of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies that it's hard to know where to begin. Some are just too ridiculous to even respond to, such as the reference to "the minority communities that the Republican Party has demonized over the past 50 years" and "the millions of Americans whose civil rights [Bush] hopes Charles Pickering will be able to erode." And there's also his bigoted suggestion that the reason that every Southern state broke for Bush in 2000 is because most Southerners are such inherently racist people.

Only the most extreme ignorance would cause somebody to believe that there is any other reason behind Senate Democrats outrageous, unprecedented bottling up of Bush's judicial nominees other than the Party's enslavement to the powerful abortion industry lobby. They oppose any judge who demonstrates the slightest potential of not striking down common-sense abortion legislation (such as limits on taxpayer funding or requiring that the same regulations for other medical facilities apply to abortion clinics) that might cut into their profit margins. The Democrats realize that in order to make their obstructionism palatable to their constituents, they must come up with other justifications, hence the bogus accusations of racism.

While it may be true that Pickering, like many Southerners (several of whom are now prominent leaders in the Democratic Party), once held segregationist views, since reforming his views on race, he has bent over backwards to reach out to the African-American community in Mississippi. That is why he is so strongly supported by the black citizens and so many black leaders (virtually all of whom are Democrats) in Mississippi. And Steinman's claim that Pickering still refuses to explain himself on a 1994 cross-burning case (upon which his entire argument that Pickering is an unreconstructed racist hinges) is simply not true. An honest look at the facts of that case will show that all that Pickering did was oppose the unfairness of letting the ringleader get off with a mere misdemeanor charge and no jail time while sentencing a less-guilty follower to spend seven and a half years in jail. Furthermore, Steinman conveniently forgets to mention how Pickering made a point of passionately denouncing such bigotry as having no place in our society. While judicial nominations have traditionally always been seen as the President's prerogative, the outrageous way in which Judiciary Committee Democrats have used the one-vote majority of Senate Democrats, which results in a one-vote majority in committees, to defeat supremely qualified judges like Pickering and Priscilla Owen on party-line votes (which hardly qualifies as being "soundly defeated"), without even letting the whole Senate vote on the nominations is absolutely unprecedented and inexcusable. Bush did the right thing by not backing down from such character assassinating demagoguery and trying to give the full Senate a chance to vote on Pickering.

John Lomperis

Fourth-year in the College, concentrating in Religious Studies