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Remarks During a Meeting With Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr., and an Exchange With Reporters

March 06, 2002

The President. I nominated a very good man from Mississippi named Charles Pickering to the appellate bench, and I expect him to be confirmed by the United States Senate. I think the country is tired of people playing politics all the time in Washington. And I believe that they're holding this man's nomination up for political purposes. It's not fair, and it's not right.

And a lot of people in Mississippi agree with me. Republicans agree with me, but so do a lot of good Democrats, starting with the attorney general of the State of Mississippi. He is here to lend his support for Charles Pickering. As well, the former Governor, Governor Winter, has expressed concern about a process that would malign a man such as him and expects him to be confirmed. Frank Hunger feels the same way. These are people in Mississippi who know the man for what he is, a man who respects the rights of all citizens and a man who not only respects the rights of all citizens, who has acted on that strong belief, a man who's a fine jurist, a man of quality and integrity.

And I hope the Senate stops playing politics. This is not good for the Senate, and it's not good for the country. They've got to get him on the floor and get him a vote and get him in. He'll do a fine job.

Judge Pickering's Nomination

Q. Can we ask you a couple questions about his nomination, sir?

The President. Go ahead.

Q. Do you agree with your Press Secretary that if the judge's writings and actions of 30—20, 30, 40 years ago should come into play, then so should the civil rights record of some of the very Senators of 30, 40 years ago? And is that a threat?

The President. Here's what I believe: I believe this man should be confirmed. I know him. I've known him for a long time, but more importantly, people from Mississippi have known him. Democrats and Republicans know him. And he needs to be confirmed, Ron [Ron Fournier, Associated Press]. This is a good, good, honorable citizen, and they're playing politics with him up there.

Q. Did you support in 1950——

The President. Hold on——

Q. Mr. President, you describe this as playing politics. But many Democrats believe there are serious civil rights issues involved; among them that when he was a member of the State Senate, Mr. Pickering voted twice to support the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which was a segregationist spy agency recognized by the State.

The President. All the allegations have been laid out. He has been confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in the past. This is a good, honorable man who should be approved by the United States Senate. Otherwise we wouldn't have a Democrat attorney general, a very popular former Governor, Al Gore's brother-in-law, all of whom have stood up and said the man needs to be confirmed.

Thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:52 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Mike Moore, attorney general, and former Gov. William Winter of Mississippi; and Frank W. Hunger, former Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, and brother-in-law of former Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. Judge Pickering's nomination to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit was submitted May 25, 2001.

George W. Bush, Remarks During a Meeting With Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr., and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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