For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 6, 2002
President Calls on Senate to Stop Playing Politics
Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with Judge Charles Pickering
The Oval Office
10:52 A.M. EST
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.
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. 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 issued 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.
END 9:52 A.M. EST