Court Nominee Urges Racial Reconciliation

Federal appeals court nominee Charles Pickering used a speech Thursday at the Mississippi Capitol to call for racial reconciliation.

It was one of his first public statements since NAACP leaders last week accused the U.S. District judge of being hostile to minority rights.

Pickering, of Laurel, has been nominated by President Bush for a position on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. He has gone through two sets of hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which could vote on his nomination by mid-March.

At a Mississippi Senate reunion Thursday, Pickering said he has been promoting racial reconciliation in every speech he has made in the past decade.

"We must resist the temptation and the allure to divide for political or personal gain,'' Pickering said.

Abortion-rights groups also are trying to block his confirmation.

Pickering served in the state Senate from 1972 to 1980.