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FIRST-PERSON: The fight over Pickering is a fight over ideas, values


JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–Politics can be brutal. Most of us know that, and despite all the modern safeguards that have been put into place, it is still occasionally possible for a good person to somehow get through the system and serve with honor.

One such person is U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering, a member of First Baptist Church in Laurel, Miss. He is a former two-term president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, and over the past several decades has served as a member of just about every committee Mississippi Baptists have to offer. His latest place of service was as parliamentarian at the state convention’s annual meeting.

When Mississippi Baptists have called on Charles Pickering, he has answered without reservation.

In addition to his service to his local church, Pickering has been a local prosecutor, state legislator, and an activist in both the state and national Republican parties. His son Chip serves as a Mississippi Congressman.

Pickering has also executed his duties as a federal judge with distinction. Nary a whiff of scandal or controversy has ever been alleged during his tenure on the bench.

While undoubtedly as human as the rest of us and therefore prone to occasional failure, Charles Pickering is nevertheless known in his home state, his home town, and his home church as a Christian man of character who holds firm to the convictions of his faith.


In modern American politics, that can get a fellow in deep trouble.

Pickering was nominated last year by President Bush to fill a vacancy on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which in federal judicial circles could be considered a merit-based promotion for a job well done.

It also doesn’t hurt that Pickering is a member of the same political party as the President, but he could not possibly have earned the appeals court nomination without a respectable record as a federal district court judge for the past 11 years. Presidents don’t like being embarrassed by sending poor nominees to Capitol Hill for confirmation.

No less than the American Bar Association ranked Pickering “well qualified” as the nominee for the appeals court post. A rational person could take that to mean the liberal-leaning national lawyers’ group could find no compelling reason to prevent Pickering from serving on the appeals court.

The host of radical left wing groups that has assembled to oppose his nomination begs to differ, however. The National Organization of Women, Planned Parenthood, and the National Abortion Rights Action League have all denounced Pickering’s nomination.

They are so incensed that the President would even consider nominating a man of faith — someone opposed to their religion of abortion any time, anywhere, for any reason — they have each dedicated a portion of their web sites to toppling the nomination.

Why? As a letter sent to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy by the Congressional Black Caucus states, Charles Pickering “has a quarter-century record of hostility to women’s rights, including a woman’s right to choose.”

For those who live in the real world outside the Washington Beltway, a “woman’s right to choose” is universally known by its actual name — abortion on demand.

Liberal attack groups are also upset that Pickering opposed the Equal Rights Amendment two decades ago and was a member of the committee that drafted a Republican convention platform that openly stated the party’s revulsion for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion on demand.

Apparently most Americans were on the same side as Pickering when it came to the Equal Rights Amendment, since backers could never get enough state legislatures to sign on to that ill-conceived bit of legislative fatuousness.

As for a “woman’s right to choose,” Pickering apparently believes as many other Americans do that to kill a defenseless, developing human being out of inconvenience or embarrassment is not a choice but infanticide.

Never mind the facts. Elitists always seem to have a problem accepting the will of the people. Such are Charles Pickering’s great sins, if his detractors are to be believed that should disqualify him from serving as an appeals court judge.

As the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on Pickering’s nomination later this week, don’t be fooled by all the self-serving political pettifoggery.

This fight isn’t really about Charles Pickering. It could just as easily be about you or me or anyone else who publicly conducts himself or herself in an unapologetically Christian manner and stands up for their Bible-based beliefs.

It’s about ideas and values, and the worldly elitists in Washington and other places around the country would just as soon we pesky Christians didn’t disrupt their agenda and the power they need to enforce that agenda.

It appears that this ruling clique will do anything to hold on to their power — including the personal destruction of a good man they see as a threat to their standing and prestige.

Now, where have we heard that story before?
Perkins is editor of the Baptist Record, Mississippi Baptists’ newsjournal, at www.mbcb.org [3].