2. Edwards chose to lead off his speech to the California Democratic Party State Democratic Convention at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles on February 16, 2002 describing his position on Pickering:
...Now I was thinking when I came in earlier today in looking around at the people who are here, what extraordinary rich
diversity is represented by this crowd. You represent the rich diversity that every person in California should be proud of for
the state of California.
And it reminded me of a trial that took place in the state of Mississippi.
Three young men decided they were going to teach a
lesson to an interracial couple in their town. They went out. They bought lumber. They bought gasoline. They bought nails.
And they built a cross. And they went to these folks' home and built that cross and burned it on their lawn, while the couple
and their young child were inside the house. These three men were charged and arrested. Two of them pled guilty; one did
not. One decided he would go to trial and said he'd done nothing wrong. After a trial, the jury convicted him.
The federal judge, the federal judge responsible for that trial did
not want to apply the law, which required that this defendent
receive a five-year minimum sentence. He went to extraordinary means to keep from having to do it, including calling lawyers
into chambers and saying if we don't do something about this, I'll order a new trial; contacting a high-level Justice Department
official and saying I want something done about this; telling the line prosecutors to call the Attorney General of the United States
to do something about this.
Now this trial didn't take place in 1950 or 1960; it took place in 1994
in Mississippi. And the federal judge who went to all
these extraordinary means that I've just talked about is not only still on the bench in Mississippi, he has been nominated by the
President of the United States to serve on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last week this judge appeared before our, my, Judiciary Committee, and
I was able to raise serious questions about this
cross-burning case that we just talked about.
We have to stand up for a fair and impartial judiciary, a judiciary
who will be fair to women, who will protect a women's right
to choose, who will be fair to people of color and who will be fair to working men and women all across this country. But my
question is, if we don't stand up for a fair judiciary, if we don't stand up, who will?
[...stump speech followed]