Democrats grill antigay judicial nominee

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 11 2003 11:00 PM ET

Alabama attorney general Bill Pryor stuck by his strong comments against abortion and homosexuality Wednesday, winning Democrats' respect for his candor but criticism for views they suggest would cloud his rulings as a federal appeals judge. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to approve Pryor's appointment to the 11th circuit U.S. court of appeals in Atlanta, but some
Democrats have hinted that they might try to filibuster the nomination on the floor--a technique they're using against some of President Bush's other judicial nominees. "In reviewing the record of the nominee before us here today, I'm disappointed to say he looks more like the nine nominees I personally have voted against than the 119 I have voted for," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). "His
views are an unfortunate stitching together of the worst parts of the most troubling judges we've seen thus far."

In addition to being questioned about his anti-abortion stance, Pryor was grilled on his views regarding gay rights. In February he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, the Texas sodomy law case, in which he compared homosexual acts to "prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia." He explained that Justice Byron White had used similar language in a 1986 Supreme Court case in which the court ruled 5-4 that Georgia's criminal penalties against homosexual sodomy were constitutional. But Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) suggested that Pryor's antigay stance runs deeper than that one brief. Feingold asked about a report that Pryor and his family rescheduled a trip to Disney World to avoid "Gay Days," a weekend festival attended predominantly by gays and lesbians and held in the Magic Kingdom theme park (though not sponsored by Disney). Pryor acknowledged that the report was true. "My wife and I have two daughters, who at the time were 6 and 4 years old," Pryor said. "We made a value judgment."