In an end-run around serious objections raised by Senators and citizen groups, President Bush today used the cover of a Senate recess to appoint Mississippi federal trial judge Charles Pickering, Sr. for one year to a seat on the vital U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“This is a slap in the face of the Constitutional process of judicial selection,” said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. “President Bush is riding roughshod over the objections of Senators, environmental groups, and many other concerned citizens.”
In October 2003, after the Senate Judiciary Committee had once rejected him, the full Senate blocked Pickering’s re-nomination to the Fifth Circuit, marking the second time that senators had refused to approve President Bush’s nomination of the controversial judge. Senators noted concerns about Pickering’s extreme record as a federal trial judge, as well as evidence of his numerous ethical violations. In a letter to the Senate last October, 18 major environmental and planning organizations urged defeat of Pickering’s re-nomination to this crucial appeals court judgeship, noting his hostility toward environmental protections and citizen access to the courts.
Noting that the president’s home state of Texas is one of three Southern states represented by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Sugameli said, “President Bush should be ashamed for sending an extremist like Pickering to represent citizens in his own home state.”
“Pickering repeatedly sought to deny citizens access to the courts to seek redress for environmental damage and other harms,” Sugameli added. “Appointing a judge like this to a federal appeals court shows that President Bush has no respect for the rights of American citizens to challenge polluters and other lawbreakers.”
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