Monday, January 19, 2004


Today is the national holiday to celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrate Freedom!

Dr. King was the driving force behind America's civil rights movement, which became the model for future important movements for the rights of women and homosexuals, reproductive rights, and whose actions are the antecedents to our current voting rights struggles.

Dr. King was a brilliant, noble, hard-working man, whose legacy is everything that makes America great.

Sadly, the people running the government today are opposed to pretty-much everything Dr. King fought for in his short life. Civil rights, voting rights, and reproductive rights are under direct attack by fundamentalists! The social and cultural progress our country enjoyed in the 20th Century is being reversed, and nobody is doing anything about it.

I am one of those odd people who is both Catholic and Pro-Choice. The lessons of "live and let live," "love thy neighbor," and "be of service to humanity" are important to me. I believe that when a woman chooses abortion, she requires the utmost understanding, compassion, respect and love. The notion that anyone would oppose a medical procedure for a person in crisis is anathema to being a Christian.

I am a man, so it may not be terribly noble to have this opinion about abortion; but, I think we make a big mistake by pretending we should tell others that they may not have an abortion.

I consider myself a moral person, and morality is important to me. I impose my morality only on me, it is my guide for living. You have your morality and you live by it, everyone has their own morality and they live by that. We cannot impose our morality on each other. We can choose to spend time with those who share our moral beliefs, but we cannot force others to embrace our morals.

I have been active in the movement to support a woman's right to choose abortion and control her own body since I was seventeen years old. In those many years I have marched in demonstrations, provided security at an abortion clinic, joined pro-choice organizations and given them money, and written letters to elected officials about this very important issue.

Friday night I received an email from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) alerting me to a sneak-attack by the Bush Administration. Just as the congressional recess got underway, the president appointed Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In previous Senate Confirmation Hearings, our elected officials have rejected Pickering, so the president has bypassed the senate confirmation process by using the Executive privilege of recess appointment power, and has guaranteed Pickering this seat until at least January, 2005.

This is a horrible appointment. Though Pickering is most famous for his vitriolic, mysogynistic, anti-choice, anti-voting rights campaigns he is dangerous for all Americans who are not wealthy white born-again christian fundamentalists. He will set the movements for racial equality, health care, gay rights, child protection, education, voting rights, social security, labor rights, and myriad others back decades.

Charles Pickering is not interested in jurisprudence! He uses his seat on the court to push forward a right-wing agenda that helps nobody but the very rich. If you work for a living, Pickering is bad for you. If you are a Catholic, Jew, or Muslim, Pickering is bad for you. If you have children in school, Pickering is bad for you. If you need a fire department, police department, public library, or any other government service, Pickering is bad for you. This man is a danger to our very way of life, and he hides himself behind a fundamentalist mantle that spews forth the lie that civil liberty and equality is bad for you.

Here is the text of the message I received from NARAL:

Just days before Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Day and mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, George Bush has given us a timely reminder of the need to stand up for the freedoms we cherish. With a ruthless disregard for our hard-fought rights, the President is stepping up his campaign to place a far-right stranglehold on the federal courts.

Charles Pickering is a lifelong anti-choice extremist. He spearheaded the Republican Party platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing a woman's right to choose and has fought to criminalize abortion in all instances except to save the life - but not the health - of the woman.

Forcing Pickering's controversial appointment after Senators rejected him in two separate Congresses is a slap in the face of everyone who believes that government should stay out of our personal decisions. Doing it when you think people won't be paying attention is the worst kind of political gamesmanship.

George Bush may think he can get away with yet another holiday weekend sneak attack on a woman's right to choose. Please contact your Senator today to express your outrage and dismay.

I have written to Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer:

I am writing to express my opposition to President Bush's recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit. It is appalling that President Bush thinks he does not have to follow the rules for filling the federal bench.

I urge you to stand up! Take an important stand to fight for the liberties that made America great! Stop letting this horrible president make a mockery of everything we have fought for to make this nation the best it can be.

You have been middle-of-the-road on everything. You seem afraid to take an important stand on difficult issues.

Take this opportunity to make things right.

If Pickering goes through, I will hold YOU responsible and I will point out to everyone I know that you are unable to defend New Yorkers against the intrusion of fundamentalism into our lives.

Later in the evening, I received this email from People For The American Way:

Today, President George W. Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process and placed far-right judicial nominee Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. By doing so, the president demonstrated arrogant disregard for the constitutional checks and balances that ensure independent and fair courts and dishonored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Click here to read the statement of PFAW President Ralph G. Neas.)

As many Americans now know, thanks to your efforts, Pickering's long public record as an elected official and federal judge is directly opposed to Dr. King's vision of equality and justice under the law, particularly on issues of racial discrimination and civil rights.

That President Bush nominated Pickering demonstrates his desire to use our federal courts to turn back the clock on the social justice progress Dr. King and millions of Americans helped win. In selecting this moment to install Pickering on the bench, Bush has once again chosen partisan confrontation over bipartisan cooperation.

Even as we heed Dr. King's call to "never succumb to the temptation of bitterness," we must not let the president's deeds go unchallenged or our convictions go unsaid. Please call President Bush and tell him that his action today only strengthens your resolve to oppose his court-packing plan.

White House Comments Line: (202) 456-1111
White House Switchboard: (202) 456-1414
TTY/TDD Comments Line: (202) 456-6213

I've decided to stop being nice to my senators and president. They have been letting the fundamentalists run rough-shod over America's civil liberties, and are happily doing their beckoning.

Please write or call your representatives in Congress: (202) 224-3121. Then call the White House comments line (202-456-1111) and let the president know you are against this action. Even if he is going to get away with this, it is important that we speak out. We must speak out. You may think you are only one voice, but your voice is what makes America great.


I Googled Pickering Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and this is a sample of what I got on the first page:

Save Our Courts

National Association of Social Workers

American Association of University Woman

National Black Law Students Association