President Obama’s nomination of James Graves to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in a voice vote. Sources tell me that both Republican senators from Mississippi support his nomination. This is quite ironic, given Graves’ apparent racial double-standards (as I outlined in an article in PJ) and the history of this particular seat on the 5th Circuit.
Readers of the Tatler may recall that Charles Pickering, another Mississippi judge, was also nominated to the Fifth Circuit by President George W. Bush. But Pickering was filibustered by Democratic senators because of false claims made about his ruling in a 1994 hate-crimes case that involved a cross-burning. (This despite Pickering’s personal history; he and his family needed FBI protection after Pickering testified against the Ku Klux Klan in 1966, helping the FBI and the Justice Department prosecute Klan member Sam Bowers, who was on trial for murdering civil rights activist Vernon Damer.) The Clinton Justice Department actually revised its initial views on the 1994 case and later agreed with Pickering’s position.
Pickering was supported by local Mississippi leaders of the NAACP, including Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, even though the national organization opposed him. Pickering served briefly on the 5th Circuit in a recess appointment, but was never confirmed in his regular nomination. So Democratic senators successfully stopped Pickering from becoming a judge on the 5th Circuit because of false claims about racism. Yet Graves, who apparently ruled differently in several matters before the Mississippi Supreme Court based on race, gets approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Talk about a double standard!