Questions Bush’s Appointment of Antigay Judge
Advocate, July 21, 2004
A federal appeals court is asking the Bush administration
to defend the president’s appointment of a judge to its ranks while the U.S.
Senate was out of session. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in
Atlanta, asked the Justice Department on Monday to intervene in a case
contesting the appointment of former Alabama attorney general William Pryor to
that court. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and others are backing a challenge
in asking the court to rule that the appointment was unconstitutional. Bush
appointed Pryor in February during a one-week recess of the Senate, which must
confirm judicial nominees. The Constitution gives the president the right to
appoint judges directly when Congress is not in session.
But Kennedy and others argue that right is valid only at
the end of a congressional session or during the recess between annual
sessions, not during short breaks. “It’s hard to imagine a more flagrant
attempt by the president to bypass the constitutional requirement of Senate
consent in appointing a federal judge,” Kennedy said in a written statement.
Democrats had blocked Pryor’s confirmation, citing his criticism of the
Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision. He was also criticized for a
Supreme Court brief in which he compared gay sex to “prostitution, adultery,
necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and
pedophilia.” Kennedy raised a legal challenge in June, but the court said he
missed a filing deadline. He is now backing a challenge to Pryor raised as
part of a civil rights case involving college students who were strip-searched
after being stopped by police in Georgia.
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