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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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