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Pickering: Faith not weakened by Senate committee rejection

WASHINGTON (BP)–His “faith has not been weakened,” and he will not withdraw his name as a nominee for a federal appeals court position, judge Charles Pickering says.

The 10 Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted against sending Pickering’s nomination to the Senate floor. The 10-9 vote came after organizations such as People for the American Way, the NAACP and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League attacked the judge’s record on civil rights, as well as his views on abortion rights and church-state separation. Supporters of his confirmation, however, charged the opposition campaign was based on a distortion of Pickering’s record on civil rights and on concerns about future rulings on abortion.

The White House has asked Pickering not to remove his name from consideration for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, his son, Rep. Chip Pickering, R.-Miss., said. Because of his status as a judicial nominee, Pickering declined an interview request from Baptist Press but provided a written statement prepared after the committee action.

“Although I am disappointed, I am in good spirits,” Pickering said in the March 14 statement. “I will not let what has happened to me during this process embitter me or shape the balance of my life. Life is too precious.

“I am extremely disturbed that judicial confirmation has degenerated into such a bitter and mean-spirited process. I sincerely hope that no other nominee has to go through what has happened to me. The price of public service should not be so high.”

Pickering, a federal judge in Mississippi’s Southern District, expressed his gratitude to President Bush and Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, both of Mississippi, for their support.

“I am touched and humbled that those who know me best, my friends and neighbors in Mississippi, both African-American and white, both Democrat and Republican, have defended my record in such a gracious and magnanimous way,” he said.

Pickering is a member of First Baptist Church in Laurel, Miss., and served two years in the mid-1980s as president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. He was a member of the Peace Committee that was established in 1985 to address issues related to the controversy at that time in the Southern Baptist Convention.

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