While I am delighted that the Senate is finally beginning to move on at least a few of the president’s nominees to federal appellate courts, I wish that Senate Democrats had agreed to up-or-down votes on all such nominees. Most are extremely competent jurists who would serve the nation well if confirmed to the federal bench.
There is, however, one nominee whose attitudes towards gays trouble me and whose confirmation I have opposed since I first wrote about the need to break the filibuster on judicial nominees. As Attorney General of Alabama, William Pryor, filed an amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas, then before the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting the Lone Star State’s sodomy law. In his brief, Pryor linked “the choice of one’s partner” to adultery, bestiality, incest and child pornography among other things.
To be sure, Pryor has shown an ability to separate his personal opinions from his judicial responsibilities. As Alabama Attorney General, he did take then-Alabama’s Chief Justice to the state’s Court of Judiciary for defying a federal judge’s order to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from the state Judiciary Building even though he disagreed with the order. That is, he followed the law even if it was at odds with his personal beliefs.
But, the language of his amicus brief in Lawrence makes me concerned on how he will rule on cases affecting gay people once on the federal bench. I’m not convinced that he will be able to separate his personal views on gays from his judicial responsibilities. Therefore, I join Log Cabin in urging you to contact your Senators and ask them to vote against confirming Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.