NCJW Opposes Nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

September 24, 2003, Washington, DC – The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has opposed the nomination of federal district court Judge Charles Pickering to the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. NCJW president Marsha Atkind released the following statement:

“NCJW strongly believes that judges who serve on the federal bench must be firm defenders of constitutional rights and liberties, including women’s reproductive rights. Judge Charles Pickering’s record indicates that he is not. As a Mississippi state legislator in 1978, Judge Pickering voted to call a constitutional convention to outlaw abortion. He chaired the subcommittee of the 1976 Republican National Convention's Platform Committee which called for a constitutional amendment overturning Roe. He voted against state funding for family planning programs. Nothing in his record since then leads us to believe that his views have changed.

“NCJW opposed Judge Pickering’s nomination during the last Congress – and rightly so, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected it. Members of NCJW were deeply disappointed by President Bush’s decision to renominate Pickering in January 2003 in spite of the committee’s recommendation and Pickering’s record of disregard for the civil rights of minorities and women, including the right to privacy.

“The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for which Judge Pickering is nominated covers Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas – states with strong anti-choice state legislatures. It is likely that the 5th Circuit will have to rule on laws passed by those legislatures intended to restrict or overturn Roe. The 5th Circuit may well be the last word on most of those cases, since the Supreme Court considers only 80 to 100 cases each year of the 7,000 or so it receives annually.

“In launching BenchMark: NCJW’s Campaign to Save Roe, the National Council of Jewish Women has made a commitment to act to ensure the confirmation of only those nominees to the federal bench who support fundamental freedoms, including a woman’s right to choose abortion. In addition to his opposition to Roe and the right to privacy on which it is based, Judge Pickering has troublesome views on key civil rights issues, including affirmative action and the principle of “one man, one vote.” NCJW calls on members of the US Senate to vote against his confirmation.”

NCJW is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works to improve the quality of life for women, children and families and to ensure individual rights and freedoms through research, education, advocacy, and community service programs initiated by its network of 90,000 volunteers, supporters and members nationwide. It has launched BenchMark: NCJW's Campaign to Save Roe, a national effort to educate and mobilize NCJW members, the Jewish community, and friends and allies everywhere to promote a federal bench with judges that support fundamental freedoms, including a woman's right to choose.