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Senate panel delays Pickering vote for a week

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday postponed for a week its vote on the appointment of Judge Charles Pickering Sr. to a federal appellate court seat.

The committee's senior Republican member, Orrin Hatch of Utah, requested the delay.

Pickering's nomination has strong opposition from liberal critics, but President Bush and other Republicans have urged that he be confirmed. Democrats and Republicans have said that Pickering's nomination is headed for defeat on a party-line vote.

"I think the process is unfair. I think it's been politicized," Hatch said outside the committee room. "The public is sick and tired of bickering. Even if Judge Pickering is rejected, I hope we would follow the precedents of Judge [Robert] Bork and Justice [Clarence] Thomas and other federal nominees and have the full Senate consider the matter."

Bush appeals to Democrats and civil rights activists who don't want Judge Charles Pickering appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals. CNN's Jonathan Karl reports. (March 7)

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Biography: Charles W. Pickering Sr. 

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

Pickering, a U.S. District Court judge in Mississippi, has been nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Among the groups that have come out in opposition to Pickering's nomination are the National Abortion Rights Action League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Mississippi, People for the American Way and the AFL-CIO labor unions.

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

They also have 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.

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




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