Kavanaugh and a Mississippi Judge: Did Nominee Mislead Congress on Pickering?


U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears to have been more involved in President George W. Bush's 2003 nomination of then-U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals than he admitted in sworn testimony before Congress in 2006. Kavanaugh is President Trump's nominee whose confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate took place last week.

In 2003, Democrats opposed Pickering's nomination amid questions about his views on race and his ties to segregationists.

After Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, Kavanaugh told the U.S. Senate under oath that Pickering "was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling." But new emails from Kavanaugh's time as an attorney in the George W. Bush White House show he sent dozens of emails to fellow White House staffers dealing with Pickering's nomination and even handled drafts of op-eds in support of him. In a January 28, 2003, email, Kavanaugh listed three Pickering-related items on his six-item to-do list: "3. Owe you binders on Owen and Pickering for Collins and Chafee staff"; "5. Waiting on Ashley for word on Pickering op-ed"; 6. "Preparing letters ... to Schumer re: Pickering."

In other emails, Kavanaugh pasted the contents of news articles about Pickering to keep staff abreast of coverage, including one unattributed column that argued that criticism of the judicial nominee was not about "false charges of racism," but about the Pickering's views on abortion.

"Playing the race card on Pickering is an easy play indeed for the pro-choice lobby," the column reads. Above the pasted column, Pickering described it as "an interesting and probably accurate analysis."

Kavanaugh's frustration with the Bush administration's lack of a response to criticisms of Pickering shows in other emails.

"We just continue to take it without any meaningful Administration response," Kavanaugh complained in

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