Appointment Ending for Appeals Court Judge at Center of Abortion Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Appointment Ending for Appeals Court Judge at Center of Abortion Debate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 24, 2004

Jackson, MS ( — Federal appeals court judge Charles Pickering found himself at the center of an abortion debate when his appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans by blocked by abortion advocates in the Senate.

President Bush used a recess appointment to put Pickering on the court, but that appointment is coming to an end. Whether Pickering will be nominated or confirmed for a full term is anybody’s guess.

"I do not know at this stage that I will not be confirmed, although my past history with opposition is not encouraging," Pickering told The Associated Press this week. "If the president should want to resubmit my name, I would have to evaluate it at that time."

If the Senate doesn’t confirm Pickering before it adjourns in December, he will be forced to retire from the appeals court.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told AP that the Senate could take up some of Bush’s judicial nominees when it reconvenes on December 7.

If Bush renominates Pickering, he would have to go through the confirmation process all over again, including an investigation and hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bush could also use a recess appointment to place Pickering on the appeals court for another year.

Pickering drew opposition from pro-abortion lawmakers because of his staunch pro-life views.

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.

In October 2003, 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.