by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life federal appeals court Judge Charles Pickering will retire after a short time serving on the bench rather than face another potential filibuster by Senate Democrats.
Pickering was given a recess appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans after abortion advocates in the Senate filibustered his nomination. He could have been reappointed to the post, though his nomination would likely have faced renewed opposition.
"The actions of the minority leave me with no alternative than to retire as Congress adjourns,” Pickering said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Recess appointments do not need confirmation from the Senate, but they only last until Congress begins a new session, as it will in January.
Bush has nominated Keith Starrett, a judge on the 14th Circuit Court District of Mississippi since 1992, to replace Pickering.
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.
"I will always be grateful to the people of Mississippi – both black and white, both Democrat and Republican – who supported my confirmation with their prayers, their words of encouragement, letters of support and trips to Washington to speak on my behalf,” Pickering said.