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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Monday, January 13, 2003
4:26 PM

Okay, now the Post is just repeating Democrat views on the Pickering nomination... In Frist to Support Bush Agenda:

On the subject of U.S. District Judge Charles W. Pickering, a nominee for appellate judge who is the most controversial choice on a list of conservative Bush judicial picks, Frist said, "I receive his nomination gladly." He added, "I plan on supporting Pickering."

Bush's renomination of Pickering, after Lott's fall because of remarks about the segregationist campaign of former senator Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), stunned Democrats, who had already rejected Pickering when they controlled the Judiciary Committee. Democrats and civil rights groups say Pickering helped a defendant in a cross-burning case and was hostile to civil rights claims. They point to his past stands against interracial dating.

"I think this really lays bare the administration's real position on civil rights," Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said on ABC's "This Week." "This exposes the Southern strategy clearly."

This is code--not even code--for saying Republicans are racists.

I'll get into more specifics later, but from an old post by NRO's Bryon York, this is the man Democrats wants us to believe is a racist:

"In 1967, many locally elected prosecutors in Mississippi looked the other way when faced with allegations of violence against African-Americans and those who supported our struggle for equal treatment under the law. Judge Pickering was a locally elected prosecutor who took the stand that year and testified in the criminal trial against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist. Judge Pickering later lost his bid for reelection because he dared to defy the Klan, but he gained my respect and the respect of many others as a man who stands up for what is right."

The Klan case, although 35 years ago, stands out in many memories. "Pickering is not perfect — no one is — but he has courage," Johnny Magee, a black city councilman in Laurel, Mississippi, recently told Legal Times. "He was involved as a county prosecutor in fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and helped put Klansmen behind bars. That was something you just didn't do in Jones County in the 1960s."

There's much more.

Pickering hired black staffers when few other Republicans or Democrats in Mississippi did. As a private lawyer he defended a young black man accused of robbing a young white woman in a rural grocery store, then stuck with the case through two trials, and finally won the young man's acquittal. He pushed the chancellor of the University of Mississippi to establish the Institute of Racial Reconciliation and then served on its board of directors. And he built a reputation for fairness. Johnny Magee told Legal Times that his stepson, convicted of drug charges, came before Pickering for sentencing. Magee told the paper that his stepson "is currently serving time, and he deserves it. But Pickering dealt with him completely fairly."

I guess I'm supposed to expect Democrats to keep chanting that Pickering tried to reduce the sentence of a convicted criminal in the cross-burning case. But shouldn't the Post start adding the detail that Pickering thought the feds were not only too hard on one guy but too easy on another?

In a move that baffled and later angered Judge Pickering, Civil Rights Division prosecutors early on decided to make a plea bargain with two of the three suspects. The first, Mickey Thomas, had an unusually low IQ, and prosecutors decided to reduce charges against him based on that fact. The second bargain was with the 17-year-old. Civil Rights Division lawyers allowed both men to plead guilty to misdemeanors in the cross-burning case (the juvenile also pleaded guilty to felony charges in the shooting incident). The Civil Rights Division recommended no jail time for both men....

The case went to trial in Pickering's courtroom. During the course of testimony, Pickering came to suspect the Civil Rights Division had made a plea bargain with the wrong defendant. No one questioned the Justice Department's decision to go easy on the low-IQ Thomas, but the 17-year-old was a different case. "It was established to the satisfaction of this court that although the juvenile was younger than the defendant Daniel Swan, that nevertheless the juvenile was the ring leader in the burning of the cross involved in this crime," Pickering wrote in a memorandum after the verdict. "It was clearly established that the juvenile had racial animus....The court expressed both to the government and to counsel for the juvenile serious reservations about not imposing time in the Bureau of Prisons for the juvenile defendant."

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