Via Technorati, I found that J. at Silver Rights (who may or may not be the same person as “Mac Diva”) apparently thinks I’m being an apologist for Charles Pickering, on the basis of a Washington Post article that reveals absolutely nothing new about the controversial 1994 case in which Pickering quite rightly objected to giving the (arguably) least responsible perpetrator of an admittedly vile act the harshest sentence of the three young men involved.
I stand by my position that Pickering is being unjustly pilloried. If the Democrats dislike him for his politics or his overall jurisprudence, that is a fair objection; however, I don’t think this particular case is in any way emblematic of either, but instead has been blown out of proportion because screaming “racist” is easier than articulating philosophical objections to the appointment of a sitting district judge to a higher court.
If Democrats (and “J.”) genuinely believe he is a bad judge and the racist they claim him to be, they should be calling for his impeachment and removal from office, not pretending he’d be objectionable if sitting on an appeals court in New Orleans but O.K. to keep in office so long as he can only affect peoples’ lives as a trial court judge in Mississippi.
Victor at “Balasubramania’s Mania” somehow interprets this post as me “stand[ing] behind Pickering.” To the extent I agree with Pickering’s position that the sentencing “guidelines” (and anything that’s mandatory fails to meet any reasonable definition of the word guideline) are idiotic and lead to perverse outcomes, including in the particular case that these dustups are over, I suppose I am.
But I also think there are valid objections that can be made to Pickering’s appointment, and I stand by my position that if Pickering is as bad a judge as the Democrats think he is, then they should be arguing that he has no business sitting on a district court either, where he is in a position much more likely to harm minorities on a day-to-day basis (in sentencing and in the conduct of trials, for example) than on an appellate court. That they haven’t suggests that they don’t really take the racism charges against Pickering seriously, but instead find them a convenient way to object to his nomination without making the same objections they would have to make against every other Bush nominee and pretending that there is a substantive difference between Pickering and the others on those grounds alone. In short, I’d like to see more intellectual consistency here. (And surely if Pickering were a racist, there would be more than one case out of the thousands he’s presided over that would provide evidence of that.)
So, my message to Democrats remains the same: if you believe he’s unfit to serve on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, by definition he’s also unfit to serve as a district court judge. Be consistent, call for his impeachment and removal from office, and find some additional evidence, and then I might take your objections seriously. Until then, the whole situation reeks of inside-the-beltway politics and “easy,” gratuitous Mississippi bashing.