Last edited: March 28, 2004

Bypasses Senate—Bush Places Anti-Gay on Bench, February 20, 2004

By Paul Johnson, Newscenter, Washington Bureau Chief

Washington, D.C.—Using the Senate recess President Bush Friday installed Alabama Attorney General William Pryor on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pryor’s appointment had been held by Senate Democrats.

“A minority of Democratic senators has been using unprecedented obstructionist tactics to prevent him and other qualified nominees from receiving up-or-down votes,” Bush said. “Their tactics are inconsistent with the Senate’s constitutional responsibility and are hurting our judicial system.”

The maneuver was soundly condemned by gay civil rights groups.

“We have no reason to believe that William Pryor—who has shown time and again that he’s unable to separate his anti-gay beliefs from his professional duties—will be able to serve as a federal judge without bias,” said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques.

As Alabama’s attorney general, Pryor linked the state attorney general’s website to anti-GLBT groups, including the Family Research Council and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which regularly litigates cases against GLBT rights.

Although most states with sodomy statutes on their books did not file briefs in defense of their laws, Pryor filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case challenging Texas’s sodomy law. Pryor’s brief likens homosexuality to incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution and adultery. He also argues in the brief that sodomy is a chosen behavior unworthy of constitutional protection

“Mr. Pryor changed his vacation plans to avoid being at Disney World during gay days. If he’s too prejudiced to share a 36,000-acre theme park with openly gay couples and their families, he should not be serving on a federal bench. It’s especially troubling that he’s been appointed to the same court that’s been asked to rule on whether gays who serve as foster parents should be able to legally adopt children they’ve raised their entire lives.”

The recess appointment, which will last only until the end of 2005, was the second Bush has used to sidestep Democrats who have mounted successful filibusters against Pryor and five other appeals court nominees.

Last month, Bush used a similar appointment to promote another anti-gay judge, Mississippi federal judge Charles Pickering, to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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