Frist on Pickering

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Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he supports President Bush's renomination of U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering to a federal appeals court, based on what he knows of the Mississippi judge.

Frist told "Fox News Sunday" that Pickering has been graded well-qualified by the American Bar Association and that Democrats who are threatening to filibuster Pickering's nomination are "playing politics" with racial issues.

One of Pickering's strong supporters during a confirmation battle last year was Sen. Trent Lott, who resigned as Senate GOP leader after making what critics said were racially insensitive remarks.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle Sunday renewed the Democrats' pledge to try to block Pickering's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Pickering was defeated 10-to-9 in the Senate Judiciary Committee last March, when Democrats held the majority.

Civil rights groups say Pickering supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi. Liberal opponents also object to Pickering's voting record as a Mississippi state lawmaker and decisions as a judge.

Many Mississippians, some of them Black and from his hometown of Laurel, spoke out in support of Pickering's nomination in 2002.