Faces Angry Democratic Committee
Data Lounge, June 13, 2003
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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