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Bush shows strong support for judge nominee Pickering

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday mounted a show of support at the White House for federal appeals court nominee Judge Charles Pickering Sr., who faces a confirmation vote this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bush met with Pickering and some of his supporters Wednesday morning in the Oval Office, and said "it's not fair and it's not right" for the Senate to block Pickering's appointment.

Pickering's nomination has drawn strong opposition from some civil rights groups, supporters of abortion rights and the AFL-CIO union.

"I believe this man should be confirmed. I know him. I have known him for a long time but more importantly, people from Mississippi have known him," Bush said. "Democrats and Republicans know him and he needs to be confirmed. This is a good honorable citizen and they are playing politics with him up there."

Biography: Charles W. Pickering, Sr. 

Pickering, now a U.S. District Court judge in Mississippi, was nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.

Among the groups that have come out in opposition to Pickering's nomination are the National Abortion Rights Action League, the NAACP of Mississippi, People for the American Way, in addition to the AFL-CIO.

Critics say Pickering, a former president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, opposes abortion rights and has been critical of the Voting Rights Act.

They have also pointed to a law review article Pickering wrote more than 40 years ago suggesting ways to amend the state's law banning interracial marriages so that it would pass constitutional muster.

"All of these allegations have been laid out. He has been confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in the past," Bush said.

Bush added that Pickering had the support of Mississippi's attorney general and other prominent state Democrats. In addition, among those at the Oval Office event in support of Pickering was Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

A former chairman of the Mississippi Republican party and state senator, Pickering is a long-time associate of Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi. His son, Rep. Charles "Chip" Pickering Jr., R-Mississippi, was formerly Lott's legislative aide.

Lott has said that efforts to derail the nomination are a "shot" at him.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, told reporters Wednesday that he would not seek a confirmation vote by the full Senate if Pickering loses the Judiciary Committee vote.

"Those who have examined his record very closely are convinced that he's probably incapable of upholding civil rights laws as they ought to be interpreted," Daschle said.




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