The President Defends Pickering

President Bush, defending an embattled federal court nominee, accused Senate Democrats today of playing politics with the choice. And, his spokesman says the civil rights record of some senators could come into play during Charles Pickering's nomination fight. Turning aside Democratic criticism about Pickering's civil rights record, Bush waved his arms in disgust and said all of the allegations have been looked at and the U-S Senate has confirmed Pickering in the past.

Pickering and Bush were joined by the judge's supporters, including Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore and several Democratic elected officials. Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, denounced liberals who are fighting Pickering's nomination to the Fifth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The court hears cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Pickering, currently a federal district judge in Mississippi, has faced criticism from women's, civil rights and liberal groups.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer turned aside questions about Pickering's civil rights record, saying critics were referring to things that took place over 40 years ago when he was a law student. He says if actions taken decades ago was the criteria, there'd be some senators voting on this nomination whose history would come into play.