by Judge Charles W. Pickering
him to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Eleven years after his first federal nomination, a ferocious, highly partisan, bitter, and meanspirited confirmation fight (a product of the culture war raging in America) consumed Pickering’s life for almost four years.
This unprecedented battle for supremacy of the federal courts threatens the quality, independence, diversity, and integrity of the American judicial system, and wreaks havoc in the personal lives of judicial nominees. It erodes civility and collegiality in the Senate, creating roadblocks preventing senators from discharging their responsibilities to the American people. It reduces the number of qualified candidates willing to run the gauntlet of the confirmation process. The politicization of the judiciary threatens our democratic processes, our separation of powers, and the rule of law as envisioned by our founders.
A Price Too High, a follow-up to Supreme Chaos, presents Pickering’s personal fight for judicial confirmation. In the book, he reflects on his odyssey through the confirmation debacle and suggests solutions he believes will benefit the nominees of any party, strengthen the independence of the federal judiciary, and fortify our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
About the Author
CHARLES W. PICKERING SR., retired federal circuit judge, experienced the brunt of the broken judicial confirmation process firsthand.
After unanimous Senate confirmation, President George H. W. Bush appointed Judge Pickering United States District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi on October 2, 1990. In May 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Judge Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. When asked to evaluate his ten years on the bench, the American Bar Association gave Judge Pickering its highest rating, “Well Qualified.” Nevertheless, a minority in the U.S. Senate obstructed Judge Pickering’s confirmation for more than two and a half years. On January 16, 2004, President Bush recess-appointed Judge Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; his commission would expire if the Senate adjourned without confirmation. Judge Pickering retired from the Federal Bench on December 8, 2004, and is presently senior counsel with the law firm of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz.
Judge Pickering is married to the former Margaret Ann Thomas. They have three daughters, Paige Dunkerton, Allison Montgomery, and Christi Chapman, and one son, Congressman Chip Pickering. They have twenty-one grandchildren.