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Slammin’ Spence

The Rev. Jesse Jackson stopped in Detroit last Thursday to 1) talk election strategy with Mayor Dennis Archer, 2) give a pep talk to the troops he says will be mounting a massive voters registration drive leading up to November’s presidential election, 3) make an argument that the Naderites are wrong when they say there are few substantive differences between the two major parties, and 4) to take some broad swipes at the Republicans for blocking Clinton’s attempts to bring diversity to the federal judiciary.

In a press conference at Greektown’s Atheneum Hotel, Jackson, flanked by Archer, U.S. Rep John Conyers, and several others, gave a moving speech highlighting the Dems’ history of inclusivity and a longstanding commitment to working-class and poor folk.

Republicans, on the other hand, were taken to task for preventing Clinton’s nominations to the federal judiciary from taking office. The issue is of particular importance here in this state, where our own Sen. Abraham has stalled hearings on two Michigan women nominated to serve on the 6th District Court of Appeals. Justice Helene White of the Michigan Court of Appeals has been waiting for three years for the Senate to hold a confirmation hearing on her appointment to the U.S. appellate court, and attorney Kathleen McCree Lewis’ nomination has been in limbo for a year.

“At least give them a hearing,” implored Archer, predicting that if Abraham continues to stall the process, that one action alone could cost him the election in November.

The tactic is not limited to Michigan. Sixty-five seats on the federal bench remain vacant while 35 nominees remain in limbo because of GOP inaction.

The Repubs are apparently trying to wait things out in the hopes that Dubya will be in a position to fill those seats come January.

With typical rhetorical flourish, Jackson warned, “What we’ve gained through demonstration and legislation we may lose through court interpretation.”

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or