Committee Vote On Pickering Nomination Expected This Week

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the Judiciary Committee will vote this week on the nomination of Mississippi Judge Charles Pickering to a federal appeals court.

"If the vote fails in the committee, of course, it dies in the committee. There is no other action required,'' said Daschle, D-S.D., who was appearing on ABC's 'This Week' on Sunday.

Daschle said he believed the committee would take up Pickering's nomination on Wednesday.

Pickering, of Laurel has been a federal judge since 1990. He has been nominated by President Bush for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which handles cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. He has gone through two sets of hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Some U.S. Senate Democrats and civil rights groups are questioning parts of his record, including his effort to reduce the sentence of a man convicted for putting a burning cross on an interracial couple's lawn.

Abortion rights groups also are trying to block his confirmation.

Daschle was asked if Pickering's nomination would be confirmed by the Senate if it passes the Judiciary Committee.

"I don't know, I have not talked to my colleagues or know just what the vote will be at this point,'' he said. "But .... if the nomination comes to the floor, I have every expectation we'll take it up and we'll have that debate.''

Pickering has strong support from Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and other state Republicans, who say opposition to the judge is politically motivated.

Pickering is rated as well qualified by the American Bar Association.