President Bush on Monday renominated antigay former Alabama attorney general William H. Pryor for a lifetime seat on the 11th U.S. circuit court of appeals. Proyor's nomination was blocked by a Senate Democratic filibuster last year, after which Bush gave him a recess appointment. That appointment expires at the end of 2005.
The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, which has lobbied against Pryor's appointment, quickly denounced the renomination. "William Pryor's record is so clearly a threat to individual rights and protections that all Americans should be concerned," said HRC 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."
HRC outlined some of the more troubling issues on Judge Pryor's record, including casting the deciding vote to uphold Florida's ban on adoptions by gays. As attorney general of Alabama, he was the only attorney general outside Texas to author an amicus brief in the Supreme Court defending Texas's antigay sodomy statute during the hearings for Lawrence v. Texas and, in particular, a state's 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. That same brief also compared same-sex relationships to pedophilia, bestiality, and necrophilia. Pryor also provided links on an Alabama Web site to antigay organizations and other conservative groups but not to groups with neutral or different viewpoints.
Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, has threatened to try to change Senate rules to force confirmation votes if Democrats carry out their filibuster threats. "We need to restore the tradition of giving advice and consent, and that means having a nominee coming from the president to us with majority support be allowed a vote, an up-or-down vote--vote against, vote for, but allowed a vote," he said on Fox News Sunday. Democratic senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts called Bush's renominations regrettable. "The president looks like he is still more interested in picking fights than picking judges," Kennedy said. "The last thing the federal courts need is reactionary judges bent on rolling back basic constitutional rights."