by Judge Charles W. Pickering
We are witnessing not only the testing of the judicial nomination system but a downward spiral in civility within the U.S. Senate. Nominees endure partisan conflict rather than a dignified and respectful legislative process. Liberal special-interest groups degrade confirmation proceedings into bitter character assassinations that malign the reputations of nominees. During his confirmation process, Judge Charles Pickering waited years to be confirmed and was ultimately forced into retirement by a Democrat minority unwilling to give him the decency of an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
In Supreme Chaos, Judge Pickering, who faced unprecedented use of the filibuster by Senate Democrats, provides an insightful assessment of the situation and argues that we must find a way out of the quagmire for the sake of the judiciary, our children and grandchildren, and the rights of all Americans. Pickering’s vision of a repaired confirmation process offers hope that order can be restored from the chaos—that justice under the rule of law as established in the Constitution will prevail.
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.