Republicans used their one-vote committee majority on Wednesday to push through the nomination of an antigay judicial candidate to the full Senate for a vote; the nominee is likely to become the third to face a Democratic filibuster, however. Alabama attorney general Bill Pryor, who has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion and gay rights, received support from all 10 Republican committee members, while all nine Democratic members voted against him. The Democrats objected to the vote because they contend that Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) rushed the confirmation vote before they could finish an investigation into Pryor's fund-raising activities for a group of GOP attorneys general. Hatch overruled the objection and forced the vote.
The disagreement increases the chance that Democrats will filibuster Pryor, who wants a seat on the 11th circuit U.S. court of appeals in Atlanta. "By rushing it, you're helping our side, in a sense," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Hatch. Democrats are currently filibustering two of President Bush's nominees to the federal appeals court, Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen, and are expected to try filibustering at least two others, Carolyn Kuhl and Charles Pickering.
Republicans emphasized that while Pryor has strong feelings about abortion and gays, he would rule according to established laws. "Yes, he does have political views, but his commitment to the law is extraordinary," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has sponsored Pryor. It was not immediately known when Republicans will try to bring Pryor's nomination up for a vote, although GOP leaders indicated they may try before leaving for their monthlong August recess.