NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is an outrage, Richard Land said March 16.
“Judge Pickering has been slandered. He has been vilified,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Land contends the Pickering nomination ran afoul of the committee Democrats who are bent on pushing a “liberal, radical social values agenda” on the federal judiciary.
“He has been smeared as a racist, which he is not; he has been smeared as a extremist, which he is not,” Land said. With all ten of the committee’s Democrats voting to reject President Bush’s nomination of Pickering, the Democrat-controlled committee also refused to pass the nomination out to the full Senate for consideration.
“Judge Pickering believes in the rights of the unborn; he seeks to interpret not change the law; and he refuses to follow the radical homosexual agenda and subvert the will of the American people who are, for example, adamantly opposed to homosexual marriage,” Land said. “This was a party-line rejection of a good and decent man.”
Pickering, who has served as federal judge in Mississippi since 1991, is a member of First Baptist Church of Laurel, Miss. He was president of the state’s Baptist convention for two years in the mid-1980s.
Land said the actions by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are “frustrating the constitutional process” by refusing to accept judicial nominees that are committed to protecting human life.
“We have a record number of vacancies within the federal judiciary because Senate Democrats refuse to deal with Bush’s appointments,” he continued. “The Senate Judiciary Committee is sitting on them unless the nominees pass a liberal litmus test.”
National organizations such as the People for the American Way, the NAACP and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League all urged the Judiciary Committee to block Pickering’s nomination.
Land said Bush promised during his campaign for president he would appoint strict constructionists, judges who would interpret the Constitution as it was originally written and not to try to rewrite it from the bench.
“The president is keeping his word but a handful of radical Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are blocking the will of the people,” he said. Democrats should not be surprised with the type of nominee Bush provides, Land said. “Judge Pickering is a conservative just like the president.”
Senators who are trying to obstruct the president’s nominees are saying that the Republicans did the same thing during the Clinton administration, Land said. “That’s simply not true,” he explained. “They did during the last year of Clinton’s eight years in office. That is a common tactic for the opposition party during a president’s lame-duck year.
“It’s one thing to delay and obstruct nominees in the last year of a presidency. It’s another thing entirely to hold up nominations in the first year of a president’s term,” Land elaborated, noting that as long as Americans keep electing senators like those on that Judiciary Committee that blocked Pickering, there will continue to be “this kind of monstrous abuse of the process.”
“The stage is now set,” Land said. “We must understand this is going to continue to happen until we the people insist that it stop by letting our senators know just how unhappy we are about it.”
Land speculated that if the committee had allowed the nomination to reach the Senate floor, the judge would have been confirmed.
Tom Strode contributed to this article.