Bush Judicial Nominee Under Fire
Data Lounge, June 11, 2003
WASHINGTON—The Senate Judiciary
Committee on Wednesday opened hearings on the nomination of Alabama Attorney
General William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, quite
possibly President Bush’s most controversial federal judicial nominee to
The 41-year-old Pryor is an aggressive opponent of
federal enforcement of environmental and civil rights laws, a fierce critic of
Row v. Wade, a staunch defender of religious symbols and practices in public
life, an avid supporter of laws criminalizing gay sexual conduct and an
opponent of federal laws mandating access for the disabled.
Gay civil rights advocates have joined with national
women’s rights groups, environmentalists, consumer protection organizations
and advocates for the disabled in opposing Pryor’s nomination against the
usual field of social and religious conservatives backing the nomination and
fighting on President Bush’s behalf.
In an interesting and entirely unprecedented move, the
normally docile Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP organization, announced
Tuesday it would oppose the Pryor nomination—the first time the group has
taken a stand in opposition to a Bush judicial nominee.
“We call on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Democrats and Republicans alike, to address Mr. Pryor’s record on civil
rights for gay and lesbian Americans,” said the LCR’s Patrick Guerriero.
Urging the president select “open-minded and fair
jurists” to the federal bench, Guerriero said, “We believe that Mr. Pryor
does not meet those criteria.” So far, Senate Democrats have successfully
blocked two Bush appellate court nominees: Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla
Owen, a candidate for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, and Miguel Estrada, a
nominee for the appeals court in Washington.
Pryor received a setback Tuesday when the American Bar
Association declined to give him its highest rating for judicial nominees. A
substantial majority on an ABA committee that investigated Pryor gave him a
“qualified” rating. A minority of panel members found him “not
Also Tuesday, a number of interest groups held an
anti-Pryor news conference in Washington, among them were the Alliance for
Justice, NAACP, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People
for the American Way, The Human Rights Campaign, the Sierra Club and the
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
As Alabama’s attorney general, Pryor abused his
position by utilizing state resources to directly and indirectly attack GLBT
Americans in his state and across the country. He linked the state attorney
general’s website to vehemently anti-GLBT groups, including the Family
Research Council and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which
regularly litigates cases against GLBT rights.
Pryor filed a friend of the court brief in Lawrence v.
Texas, the Supreme Court case challenging Texas’s sodomy law, in which he
likened homosexuality to incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution and
adultery. He argued that sodomy is a chosen behavior unworthy of
“That kind of bias and blatant discrimination is not
appropriate for someone assuming a lifetime appointment to a federal circuit
court,” said the HRC’s Winnie Stachelberg. “It is appalling that Pryor
would even be considered for this position. HRC is calling on the Senate to
oppose this nomination, which is an affront to all fair-minded Americans.”
[Home] [News] [USA]