Renominates Homophobic Judge
February 15, 2005
By Paul Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON—A year after naming
former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to a temporary seat on a federal
appeals court, President Bush has launched a fresh attempt to put the
controversial attorney there for life.
In the 2003-2004 session of Congress, Pryor’s
nomination was blocked by Senate Democrats, who charged that he was too
extreme to make impartial judgments. Last February, the president instead
placed him on the 11th Circuit in a temporary assignment set to expire late
Late Monday and without comment, Bush resubmitted
Pryor’s name to the Senate, which must again decide whether to confirm him
for the lifetime appointment to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
While in his temporary position on the court Pryor cast
the deciding vote to uphold Florida’s outright ban on gay adoption. Florida
is the only state in the country that explicitly bans children from being
adopted by gays and lesbians.
As Attorney General of Alabama, he was the only attorney
general outside of Texas to author an amicus brief in the Supreme Court
defending Texas’s anti-gay sodomy statute. Pryor argued that states have an
interest in singling out same-sex relations for punishment, even though his
own state’s statute made no distinction between same-and opposite-sex
relations. His brief also compared same-sex relationships to pedophilia,
bestiality and necrophilia.
While he served at A.G. of Alabama Pryor had links placed
on the state website to anti-gay organizations and other conservative groups
but not to groups with a neutral or differing views.
“William Pryor’s record is so clearly a threat to
individual rights and protections, that all Americans should be concerned”
said Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Policy David Smith.
“He has made it clear throughout his career that he has
a strong bias against GLBT Americans. This country needs judges who make fair
and balanced decisions free from any slanted ideology.”
Smith urged the Senate to reject Pryor’s nomination.
That opinion was shared by the National Stonewall Democrats.
“It is dangerously unethical for President Bush to
promote the quick confirmation of judicial activists whose rulings he himself
has not examined,” said Dave Noble, NSD Executive Director.
“President Bush recently admitted that he did not know
that the state of Florida prohibits gay residents from adopting children. Yet,
it was his recess appointment—William Pryor—who cast the deciding vote
days earlier to uphold this ban. If President Bush refuses to review the
records of his own nominees for lifetime appointments, then the Senate
Senate Democrats are expected to renew their opposition
to Pryor’s nomination. Republicans are pressing for acceptance.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) who has been
Pryor’s leading backer on Capitol Hill, said he hoped lawmakers “will
consider the great merits of his candidacy, including his record on the 11th
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.,
suggested that Pryor could get early consideration.
Another Bush nominee, California Supreme Court Justice
Janice Rogers Brown, also holds a radical record of anti-gay judicial
In 2003, Brown was the only justice on the California
Supreme Court to rule against recognizing the right of gay Californians to
legally adopt their children. Brown argued that allowing a gay parent to
legally adopt the biological child of their partner “trivializes family
Meanwhile, evangelist Pat Robertson indicated Tuesday
that if Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist expects backing of religious
conservatives for a possible 2008 presidential bid, he had better get
President Bush’s judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate, or at least
“It is the ultimate test,” Robertson said at the
National Press Club. “He cannot be a leader and allow Democrats to do what
they did in the last session.”
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