The Fifth Circuit, one of the most conservative federal courts, has the largest
percentage of minorities of any federal circuit court in the country and has
issued many extreme anti-civil rights rulings.
The Fifth Circuit
needs a judge who will have a moderating influence on the court and who will
support vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws.
Pickering’s record of hostility to important civil rights issues, Pickering
should be disqualified from elevation to any federal court of appeal.
Pickering has shown remarkable sympathy for cross-burners. When presiding over
a 1994 trial involving a cross burning in the yard of an interracial family,
Judge Pickering aggressively promoted his views to prosecutors that the sentence
for the one defendant who was convicted at trial was too severe, even though
the law mandated it.
In the end, he
persuaded prosecutors to drop the charge that would have required the long sentence.
Pickering has supported
measures that have helped perpetuate voting discrimination against African-Americans.
As a state senator in the 1970s, Pickering twice voted for a reapportionment
plan that would increase the number of senators per district while diluting
the voting strength of African Americans and other racial minorities.
Judge Pickering published an opinion questioning the "one-person-one vote"
doctrine as "obtrusive."
As a district court judge, Pickering has often made extraneous statements showing
his disdain for plaintiffs in race discrimination suits.
In cases such
as Seeley v. City of Hattiesburg, and Johnson v. South Mississippi Home Health,
Judge Pickering used identical language in both opinions, describing them as
having "all the hallmarks of a case
that is filed simply because an adverse employment decision was made in regard
to a protected minority."
Pickering has a history of anti-miscegenation positions. While in law school,
Pickering supported the imposition of stronger criminal penalties for violating
a ban on interracial marriage.
In a three-page
article for the University of Mississippi Law Review, he urged the legislature
to pass a stronger law against the practice.
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