Judge Charles Pickering was sworn in Friday night by federal appeals judge, Rhesa Barksdale, to a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
After a lengthy battle with congressional Democrats, President Bush Friday made a recess appointment that does not require U.S. Senate approval. The court has jurisdiction over Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. The appointment does not require confirmation until the next Congress is seated in this case, January 2005.
Some Democrats had blocked a confirmation vote in the Senate for over two years, even though many Democrats and some minorities in Mississippi supported Pickering's nomination.
Some opponents accused Pickering of being a segregationist, and contended he would use his position to advance his conservative views. President Bush called Pickering a "good, fair-minded man,'' accusing a handful of senators of unfairly standing in the way of his appointment.
Pickering said he's "grateful to the president for his continued confidence and support.''
Cong. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, called the appointment "unfortunate".
But Cong. Gene Taylor, also a Mississippi Democrat who supports Pickering, said he is "pleased to hear the President has chosen to do this."