of embattled judicial nominee Charles Pickering made an emotional
plea for his confirmation today after an Oval Office meeting with
was in the group that met with the president, but did not meet with
reporters afterward. His supporters, most of whom were Democrats
from Pickering's home state of Mississippi, faced persistent questioning
from the national press corps about Pickering's record on civil
always been fair," said Mike Moore, the Democratic attorney
general of Mississippi. "Judge Pickering is a good man, he's
a friend of mine, and I trust him on the bench."
brother of murdered civil-rights activist Medgar Evers, also appeared
on Pickering's behalf. Evers said, "I'm not going to sit by
and let these Yankees scuttle the nomination."
son, Rep. Chip Pickering, was also with the group. The younger Pickering
offered a detailed defense of his father's record in a 1994 cross-burning
case that has been the focus of Democratic criticism. He was also
asked why Republicans have taken so long to mount an energetic defense
of the nominee. "We were all just taken aback" by Democratic
opposition to the nomination, Pickering said. "We just did
not see this coming, we were blindsided, and we were shocked by
After the White
House meeting, the group of Pickering supporters headed to Capitol
Hill where they hoped to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats.
It's believed that every Democrat on the committee opposes the nomination,
but Pickering supporters hope they can convince at least one Democrat
to vote in favor of a resolution to send the nomination to a vote
in the full Senate, even if it is defeated by the committee.
Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider the
Pickering nomination. It is possible, however, that a vote will
be put off for one more week until Thursday, March 14.
It is not clear
whether the president's last-minute involvement in the case will
be enough to turn the tide in Pickering's favor. If not, a Pickering
defeat would be the Bush administration's first lost judicial-nomination