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MAY 27, 2005 7
I national news
Some conservatives upset over Pryor's record
CONFIRMATION, continued from Pagel
California Supreme Court Justice Brown
was first nominated in 2003. She has argued
against affirmative action and against
aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. She issued a minority opinion in
2003 saying a gay person should not be
allowed to adopt the biological child of his
or her partner, saying providing such an
adoption right "trivializes family bonds."
But it is former Alabama Attorney
General F*ryor, 43, who most troubles gay
rights advocates. He has argued against provisions of the Voting Rights Act and against
federal antidiscrimination laws and has a
record opposing gay and lesbian civil rights.
Bush named Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court
of Appeals in a recess appointment that
expires at the end of this year.
Shortly after the appointment, Pryor
cast the deciding vote to uphold a Florida
law banning gays from adopting children.
Longtime lesbian activist Felicia
Fountiane of Hunstville, Ala., said that the
amicus brief that Pryor wrote in the
Lawrence vs. Texas case that overturned
state sodomy laws exposes Pryor's attitudes
toward the rights of lesbians and gays.
At that time, Pryor was attorney general in Alabama and in his brief to the court
he argued that awarding constitutional
protection to consensual sex between gay
people would inevitably lead to similar
protection for incest, necrophilia,
pedophilia, prostitution and adultery.
The day after the announcement of the
Senate deal, some gays in Pryor's home
state of Alabama said that they were disheartened.
Howard Bayless, board member of
Equality Alabama, an all-volunteer
statewide gay advocacy group, said that he
expected a Pryor appointment would lead
to a rollback of progress in gay rights.
Bayless said that he expects Pryor to interfere with local laws that offer employment
protections for gay men and lesbians.
"I'm obviously very disappointed that Pryor
is going to be able to stay on the bench.''
fountiane said. "He has virtually no career
except for what the Republican Party has handed him in Alabama. He is young, has no experience and is going to be there for a long time."
Lara Schwartz, senior counsel for the
HRC, echoed Fountiane's sentiments.
"We have already seen the damage that
his presence on the courts can do," Schwartz
said. "During the year of this recess appoint
ment, he already voted not to rehear a decision on Florida's ban on gay adoption."
The appointment of conservative judges
hostile to gay rights can have a major
impact on cases heard by federal appeals
courts. According to Schwartz, most cases
reach their final decision at that level, with
only 2 percent of the cases going on for
decision by the Supreme Court.
Road to a deal
In the last week, speculation grew over
whether Republicans could muster the
majority vote necessary to rewrite the
Senate rules, as social conservatives
weighed in on the issue insisting that Bush's
nominees "be granted an up or down vote."
In an unprecedented effort, conservatives focused on mobilizing churchgoers to
their cause. In April, the Family Research
Council sponsored "Justice Sunday" featuring Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
In a church service that was simulcast
on the Web, radio, satellite and on cable, the
Democrats' effort to block 10 of Bush's nominees was presented as a "filibuster against
people of faith" and churchgoers were pressured to contact their representatives and
demand a vote on Bush's nominees.
Special emphasis was given to the plight
of Brown and Owen. FRC sponsored
demonstrations of women and of pastors of
color to rally support for the two nominees.
Frist set a deadline and promised to call
for a vote on the nuclear option.
Democrats debated responding to the
rules change by obstructing Senate business altogether.
On May 23, seven Republican Senators —
Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). Olympia J. Snowe (R-
Maine), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), John McCain
(R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), John W
Warner (R-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—
and seven Democratic Senators—Ben Nelson
(D-Neb.), Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa.), Joe
Lieberman (D-Conn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.),
Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Ken Salazar (D-
Colo.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) announced
that they had reached a two-part compromise.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was one of the
14 senators that brokered a deal to avoid the nuclear
option' over judicial filibusters, said in a news conference that not all of the nominees would be confirmed
by the Senate. (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP)
'Nuclear option' avoided
The bipartisan group of senators would
allow three of the stalled nominees to
come to a vote: Rogers Brown, nominated
to the D.C. Circuit Court; Owen, nominated to the 5th Circuit Court based in New
Orleans; and Pryor, nominated tollth
Circuit Court in Atlanta, where he is
already serving temporarily because of a
recess appointment by Bush.
The second part of the compromise
announcement declared that nominees
would only be filibustered under "extreme
circumstances" and. that the senators
would oppose changes to the Senate rules.
The Human Rights Campaign praised
the Senate deal for "preserving the ability
to block extremist nominees," while
expressing disappointment "that Judge
William Pryor, who has a record of attacking equal rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, is one of
the nominees who will proceed."
Other gay groups had stronger language for the compromise.
Elizabeth Hampton Brown, a Parents &
Friends of Lesbian & Gays staffer and
civil rights scholar said. "The deal
ensures that our courts will be packed
with extremist lifetime judicial
appointees, who value the politically powerful over ordinary American families."
"We feel a deep sense of foreboding
with this compromise. ... The nuclear
option is still retained and Dr. Frist and
his extremist allies have already threatened to use it." Foreman said. "This time-
honored tradition of the filibuster has
now been conditioned that it can only be
used in 'extraordinary' circumstances and
those circumstance are essentially going
to be decided by 14 senators."
Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for
Justice, a progressive lobby group, did not
disguise her feelings about the comprom ise.
"Is there anybody on our side who is
happy?" Aron said in a New York Times
interview. "We are very disappointed with
the decision to move these extremist nominees one step closer to confirmation.
She told the Times that, "it remains to be
seen" if Democrats will pay a price for
agreeing to the compromise, which was
praised by the party's Senate leadership.
"There are a number of angry people who
care about the future of the judiciary." Aron
told the paper.
Pryor not conservative enough?
In the news conference announcing the
Senate deal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.)
said that though some judges are going to
receive a vote who otherwise wouldn't have,
"Some of them are going to make it on our
up and down vote and some of them won't."
Some conservative political commentators have speculated that Pryor may not make
it through the confirmation process. They
note that as Alabama attorney general Pryor
did not challenge the Roe vs. Wade abortion
decision and backed the removal of Roy
Moore, then the chief justice of the state's
supreme court, for defying a federal court
order to remove a Ten Commandments
memorial from the courthouse. Pryor also
voted against interventing in the Terri
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