Last edited: February 13, 2005

Pryor Faces Angry Democratic Committee

The Data Lounge, June 13, 2003

WASHINGTON—Alabama Attorney General William Pryor told a mostly hostile panel of Democratic Senators Wednesday that his personal views on abortion, homosexuality and the separation of church and state would not impact his impartiality in deciding cases as a federal judge.

A hero among social and religious conservatives, Pryor has been nominated by President Bush to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.

The Republican drive to repopulate vacancies on the federal bend with conservatives has been mostly successful. Only the most ideologically rigid nominees have been met with unbreakable Democratic resistance through filibuster, a fate Pryor seems destined to share.

Democrats seemed to relish reading back statements and reviewing actions that painted Pryor as a homophobic bigot. In an amicus brief Pryor submitted as Alabama Attorney General to the Supreme Court in support of the Texas sodomy law, he said decriminalizing consensual gay sex would lead to”prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography and even incest and pedophilia.” Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin asked Pryor to confirm if he had changed the timing of a family vacation to Disney World to avoid being in the state capital during a Gay Pride celebration. “We made a value judgment,” he said, noting that he and his wife made the decision to “protect” his two daughters, who were then 6 and 4 years old.

Fellow Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said Pryor’s assurances that his personal views would be kept separate from his judicial decisions were meaningless.

“It’s just not enough to say ‘I will follow the law,’” Schumer said. “Every nominee says that, and then when they get to the bench they have many different ways of following the law.”

A handful of Democrats are floating the idea of allowing a straight up or down vote in the Senate, reasoning that Pryor’s views are so noxious to the majority, that the nomination stood a good chance of a failure, shaming the White House and its conservative allies.

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