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The Honorable John Edwards
United States Senator
STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS
Mr. Chairman, it has been said that "he who ignores history is doomed to repeat it." And, sadly, we are both ignoring and repeating history here today.
We are reaching back in time and re-doing a nomination that has already been resolved. More than a year and a half ago, Charles Pickering had a full and fair hearing before this Committee and, after careful consideration and full debate, we voted fair and square not to send this nomination to the floor.
At any other time, that would have been the end of that.
Judge Pickering has repeatedly demonstrated a disregard and even a hostility to the principles that protect the rights of so many of our citizens.
I do not presume to know what is in Judge Pickering's heart. But I DO know what is in his record. That record proves him unfit to serve as a Court of Appeals judge.
In one case, Judge Pickering took extraordinary steps to reduce the sentence required by law for a man convicted of cross burning. In addition, he exerted extraordinary efforts to reduce the five-year sentence mandated by federal sentencing guidelines in the cross-burning case and went so far as to make an ex parte phone call to Justice Department officials in an attempt to assist the defendant.
And, since his hearing, Judge Pickering has actively solicited the support of this nomination from attorneys who appear in his courtroom. This behavior not only calls into question Judge Pickering's commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans, but legal experts agree that his actions violated the canons of judicial ethics.
Mr. Chairman, I urge you and all of my colleagues to remember this history in order not to repeat it. I know that this is not the best that the Mississippi legal community has to offer. We can do better. And we should do better.