Hatch Says Pickering Victim of 'Lynching' on Civil Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A key Senate Republican yesterday forced a vote delay on federal appeals court nominee Judge Charles W. Pickering, saying the candidate is the victim of a "lynching" by special interest groups over civil rights issues.

"It is the product of engineering by extreme-left Washington special interest groups who are out of touch with the mainstream and have a political ax to grind," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Hatch asked for a one-week delay of the committee vote where Democrats outnumber Republican members by one, but none indicated they were willing to change their minds.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and committee chairman, said he is resolute in his opposition.

"My mind is made up," Mr. Leahy said.

The nomination of Mr. Pickering to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is opposed by at least 25 special interest groups in Washington, which have labeled him as unfriendly to women and racial minorities.

Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, a leading opponent, said Mr. Hatch's remarks are a "diversionary tactic" to take the spotlight off Judge Pickering's judicial record.

"Senator Hatch's remarks were inaccurate and unfair," Mr. Neas said.

"Opposition to Judge Pickering is based on his record as a District Court judge and a state senator. Whenever the civil rights and women's rights community opposes a judicial nominee supported by Senator Hatch, he always tries to make the opposition the issue, rather than the public record of the nominee," Mr. Neas said.

Mr. Hatch said two different pictures of Judge Pickering have emerged from the confirmation battle: one that he took courageous stands against racism, the other that he is an opponent of civil rights.

At least 50 special interest groups support Judge Pickering's nomination.

"In order to do their lynching, the groups are committed to changing the ground rules for the confirmation process," Mr. Hatch said.

"And there is a new war over circuit nominees, and they demand that the Democrats do whatever possible to stop or slow the confirmation of these fine nominees. For them, the means justify the ends at whatever the cost - including the gross distortion of a man's record and character," Mr. Hatch said. …