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Showdown looms
after Senate panel approves nomination of antigay judge

Showdown looms
            after Senate panel approves nomination of antigay judge

Republican
senators on Thursday pushed through to the U.S. Senate the
nomination of antigay appeals judge William Pryor for a
permanent judgeship, setting up a showdown with Democrats
over President Bush's four most controversial judicial
nominees. The GOP-controlled panel approved Pryor on a 10-8
vote, with all Republicans supporting him and all Democrats
opposing him.
Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general, currently
holds a temporary seat on the 11th circuit court of appeals
in Atlanta because President Bush last year circumvented
Congress and placed him on the court. For Pryor to win a
lifetime appointment, the full Senate must confirm him by
the end of the year. Democrats filibustered Pryor and six
other nominees during Bush's first term and have threatened
to block them again. "While the renomination of all the
rejected judges was a thumb in the eye, the recess
appointment of Bill Pryor was a slap in the face," said Sen.
Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York.
Democrats cast Pryor as an extremist whose views on
abortion and gay rights would prevent him from being an
impartial judge. Republicans insist his personal views don't
influence his decisions and shouldn't be considered. "We
can't look at someone's personal faith or religious faith
and say, 'I don't agree with you on this, I don't agree with
you on that personally; therefore you can never be a
judge,"' said Republican senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
"The test must be and always must be, Do they respect the law?"
Senate majority leader Bill Frist has threatened to
disallow future filibusters and force a vote on Pryor as
well as Idaho lawyer William Myers, Texas judge Priscilla
Owen, and California judge Janice Rogers Brown--a move
called the "nuclear" or "constitutional" option. Pryor was
the last of those four nominees--whom Democrats describe as
the four "red-hot" nominees in the judicial battle--to get
approval by this year's Senate Judiciary Committee. Votes on
North Carolina judge Terrence Boyle and White House staff
secretary Brett Kavanaugh, who also want lifetime seats on
the U.S. appeals court, were delayed by the committee. (AP)

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