Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, April 02, 2004  

Did you happen to see the 60 Minutes piece on Charles Pickering last week? It was a glowing piece that made the judge look like a man wrongly accused of extremism by politically-motivated Dems in the Senate. Your eyebrow may have ridden up your forehead. Mine did. The Center for American Progress has the rebuttal.

Contrary to his unchallenged – and unsupportable – assertion on the show that he has been labeled racist, Pickering mobilized such significant opposition because he is a bad judge, with a career-long antipathy to civil rights and reproductive freedom. He has been routinely reversed by the Fifth Circuit without comment, indicating that there was no nuance in the law: he simply got it wrong. Further, at his 2002 hearing, he betrayed a complete misunderstanding of employment discrimination law, the apparent reason why he has dismissed almost all of these cases that have come before him. He saw nothing wrong with contacting numerous lawyers in his small town – several with cases before him at that time – to request that they write letters in support of his Fifth Circuit nomination, and that they send those letters to him so he could forward them to the Department of Justice.

And, yes, Pickering is a bad judge because he bullied prosecutors into dropping a charge against convicted cross burner Daniel Swan, that would have alone carried a mandatory sentence of at least five years. His actions in that case raise serious questions about his judgment, his ethics, and his ability to apply the law faithfully and fairly; none of which Wallace challenged Pickering to answer. Referring to the act of terror and intimidation against an interracial couple with a 2-year-old child as a "drunken prank," Pickering railed against the unfairness of Swan's facing a total seven-year sentence when his co-defendants received probation and home confinement. What Pickering – and Wallace – neglected to tell viewers was that there were numerous differences between Swan and the other two defendants, the most significant of which was that the other two defendants – one a minor, and the other of diminished mental capacity – pled guilty while Swan chose to roll the dice, boasting to friends that he would serve no jail time for his actions....

At his 1990 district court nomination hearing, Pickering denied having had any ties to the Sovereignty Commission, a state-funded group established in the 1950s to fight desegregation, notorious for harassing and terrorizing civil rights and labor activists. In fact, the commission's records, which were finally opened in the late 1990s pursuant to a law suit, included a 1972 memo saying that state legislator Pickering and four other politicians were "very interested" in the results of a commission investigation into a local labor dispute and "requested to be advised of developments."

So, keep that eyebrow cocked--but aim it at Mike Wallace.

posted by Jeff | 10:21 AM |
Blogroll and Links