Magazine article Insight on the News

Liberals Try to Nitpick Pickering

Magazine article Insight on the News

Liberals Try to Nitpick Pickering

Article excerpt

One certainly can understand why newspapers such as the Atlanta Journal and Constitution ("Extremist Judge Unfit to Sit on Appeals Court") and the Los Angeles Times ("Say No to This Throwback") are so upset about Charles Pickering, President George W. Bush's nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. After all, the man once testified as a character witness for the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

What's that, you respond? He testified against the grand wizard, not for? In Mississippi? In 19677 Putting himself at political and personal risk? Oh. You say he was a local prosecutor who lost his bid for re-election because he stood up to the Klan? Hmmm.

You say this man Pickering, who has been a federal judge for 11 years, was asked by Mississippi's governor to serve on the executive committee of the Institute of Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss? What? He was the one who urged the state's governor and the chancellor of the university to create the institute in the first place?

Who's been feeding you this stuff? James Charles Evers? You mean the brother of slain civil-rights hero Medgar Evers? He's defending this "extremist" in the pages of the Wall Street Journal? Hmmm.

People for the American Way (PFAW), the Alliance for Justice and other members in good standing of the character-assassination coalition have been faxing false accusations about Pickering far and wide. Some of those faxes landed on Evers' desk. Evers, who has known Pickering for decades, was "saddened and appalled to read many of the allegations that have been put forth about Judge Pickering ... made by groups with a Washington, D.C., address and a political agenda" and without real knowledge of "Pickering's long and distinguished record on civil rights."

Evers notes that Pickering did more than face down the Klan. While in private practice, he defended an African-American man accused of robbing a white 16-year-old at knifepoint. After two trials, the man was acquitted.

PFAW is making much of a 1990 denial by Pickering that he ever had contact with the racist Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. PFAW has uncovered a phone call with a commission staffer dating to 1972. But that phone call dealt with Pickering's concern over a labor dispute in Jones County, Miss. …

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