Judge Charles Pickering says accusations that he is racially insensitive fly in the face of his decades-old record of fighting for civil rights.
Pickering, whose nomination by President Bush to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was voted down by Democrats in the U.S. Senate because of those charges, talked about his record with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.
"To accuse a white southerner of being a racist is about the worst thing you can do, and this has been my life work. I have worked for more than three decades trying to provide better relations between the races, trying to protect equal rights. That's my core being. And they've attacked that," said Pickering Sunday night.
Says Pickering, "Mississippi's made tremendous progress. And I feel like I've been a part of that progress. And I'm glad to have been a part of that progress. And I think it's extremely unfortunate any time anyone, black or white, uses race to divide us and polarize us."
Pickering's recess appointment runs up next year. He says he will then re-seek confirmation from the U.S. Senate.
Interview portion taken from CBS News "60 Minutes".