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Reform Jewish Leader Disappointed by Recess Appointment of Charles Pickering

Feldman: President Bush's decision to bypass the Senate confirmation process signaled to the nation that he is willing to pull out all the stops to elevate nominees who are hostile to the rights of women and minorities. Sadly, the President has once again chosen to bypass bipartisan cooperation in order to stoke his conservative base.

Contact:Alexis Rice or Sheryl Shapiro 202.387.2800

NEW YORKJanuary 20, 2004 - In response to Friday's recess appointment of Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. of Mississippi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Bush, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The Reform Jewish Movement was disappointed by the President's recess appointment of Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appointment, announced as Americans prepared to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., was irreconcilable with his memory and his work to establish civil rights for all Americans.

Judge Pickering has a record of hostility toward reproductive rights, has been unsympathetic to cases of employment discrimination, and has had questionable judgment in the area of civil rights. Pickering has expressed strong disapproval of the Voting Rights Act and the "one person, one vote" doctrine, calling it "obstructive" and pejoratively deemed it something that legislatures have learned they "must live with." He has also been criticized for his decision to intervene in a cross-burning case on behalf of the man convicted of burning the cross on the lawn of an interracial couple with a small child, forcing prosecutors to drop felony arson charges and thereby lessen his minimum sentence. Pickering's antipathy to civil rights sought by Dr. King should not be rewarded by his elevation to any federal court of appeal, much less the Fifth Circuit, which has the largest percentage of minorities of any federal circuit court in the country.

President Bush's decision to bypass the Senate confirmation process signaled to the nation that he is willing to pull out all the stops to elevate nominees who are hostile to the rights of women and minorities. Sadly, the President has once again chosen to bypass bipartisan cooperation in order to stoke his conservative base.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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