President Bush Uses Recess Appointment to Confirm Pickering

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 16, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Uses Recess Appointment to Confirm Pickering

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 16, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Tired of the battle to overcome filibusters by pro-abortion Democrats, President Bush on Friday used a recess appointment to put pro-life appeals court nominee Charles Pickering on the bench.

The recess appointment helps Pickering avoid the contentious nomination process, though it only lasts until the next Congress convenes, in January 2005.

Pickering, a federal judge, had been waiting for the Senate to approve his nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In October, pro-abortion Senate Democrats, by a 54 to 43 vote, prevented Pickering supporters from obtaining the necessary 60 votes to stop debate and approve the nomination.

Pickering "is a good, fair-minded man, and the treatment he has received by a handful of senators is a disgrace,” Bush said in a statement after the vote.

"I’m grateful to the president for his continued confidence and support,” Pickering told The Associated Press from his home in Mississippi.

Pro-life groups praised Bush for making the appointment.

"President Bush’s recess appointment is a bold move. But recess appointments are not permanent," Nik Nikas, general counsel for Americans United for Life, told "The country still needs Senators who will support judges who interpret, not make, the law."

As a state Senator, Pickering wrote a constitutional amendment to ban abortion that was adopted by the Mississippi Republican Party. Also, Pickering chaired the subcommittee of the National Republican Party that in 1976 approved a plank calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to make abortion illegal.

Those pro-life views prompted abortion advocacy groups to oppose his nomination and they encouraged pro-abortion senators to filibuster.

The 5th Circuit court is currently weighing an appeal of a lawsuit filed by Norma McCorvey to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. McCorvey’s case would have a better chance were he confirmed.

The court reviews cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, including pro-abortion challenges to pro-life legislation passed in state legislatures.

The vote against Pickering was cast on party lines, although Senators John Breaux (D-LA), Zell Miller (D-GA) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT) supported the cloture vote. Pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) was absent, and would he would have provided a 55th vote in favor of ending debate.