The Editorial Boards Were Wrong About Pryor

In the fight over the Ten Commandments, Alabama’s Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor has shown himself able to do what many liberals declared he never could: put his religious and political views aside and uphold the rule of law.

For months, Pryor, who was nominated by President Bush to fill a vacancy designated a “judicial emergency” on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, has been raked over the coals by the liberal editorial boards of many newspapers as a blind partisan, unable — if not unable, then unwilling — to separate his personal views from the duties of a federal judge.

However, CNN recently reported that “[w]ith [U.S. District Judge Myron] Thompson threatening to fine the state $5,000 a day for defying his order, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor and Gov. Bob Riley refused to back Moore. Both men are fellow Republicans and self-professed conservative Christians who supported the monument’s installation, but they said Moore was bound to obey Thompson’s order.”

Fox News, too, noted in one of their reports on the Ten Commandments battle that “Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, a Republican, defended the court-ordered removal of the monument and is overseeing the prosecution of Moore on the ethics charge, which will be heard before the seven-member Court of the Judiciary.”

Contrast those reports to these charges from a few of the editorials of the country’s major newspapers concerning Pryor’s nomination:

From “Unfit to Judge,” The Washington Post, April 11, 2003:

    “Mr. Pryor is probably best known as a zealous advocate of relaxing the wall between church and state. He teamed up with one of Pat Robertson’s organizations in a court effort to defend student-led prayer in public schools, and he has vocally defended Alabama’s chief justice, who has insisted on displaying the Ten Commandments in state court facilities. . . .

    “[T]his is not a nomination the White House can sell as above politics. Mr. Bush cannot at once ask for apolitical consideration of his nominees and put forth nominees who, in word and deed, turn federal courts into political battlegrounds. . . .”

From “Injudicious Tactics,” The Baltimore Sun, July 30, 2003:

    “He’s a zealot who shows no sign of being able to put aside his deeply held personal views in order to render decisions based on law and precedent.”

From “Bring on the Filibuster Against Ultraconservative,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 25, 2003:

    “Southerners who care about the separation of church and state should hope Alabama Attorney General William Pryor never sits on the 11th Circuit appellate bench, which rules on appeals in cases from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The ultraconservative Pryor, who preaches that Christianity should be more a part of American public life, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday in a 10-9 vote along partisan lines.”

From “An Extremist Judicial Nominee,” The New York Times, July 23, 2003:

    “If he is confirmed, his rulings on civil rights, abortion, gay rights and the separation of church and state would probably do substantial harm to the rights of all Americans. . . .

    “He has defended the installation of a massive Ten Commandments monument in Alabama’s main judicial building, which a federal appeals court recently held violated the First Amendment.”

From “Injudicious,” The Washington Post, June 13, 2003:

    “Packed into this brief comment [by Pryor regarding the close decision in Bush v. Gore] are several attitudes that should be anathema to any federal judge: contempt for judges with whom they disagree, a vision of the judiciary as essentially political in nature, and a desire to see matters of national controversy resolved in such a way as to highlight the political differences among jurists. . . . At his hearing this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he said he could put aside his strongly conservative views on many subjects when he becomes a judge. His political comments about judging make this claim ring hollow. . . .

    “In general, nominees should be taken at their word when they promise under oath that they will put their politics aside as judges, and we have urged the confirmation of controversial conservative nominees such as Michael McConnell, Priscilla R. Owen and Miguel Estrada partly on the strength of such affirmations. But a man who professes such a politicized view of the task of judging forfeits the benefit of the doubt. He already has effectively promised that he will be more loyal than Justice Souter — and while loyalty to an ideological camp may be a virtue in politics, there are few greater vices in a judge.”

From “Beyond the Pale,” The Washington Post, July 26, 2003:

    “Mr. Pryor’s nomination is controversial for the simple reason that he has never shied away from taking strident positions on matters of national moment: His record is replete with the sort of unblinking partisanship and ideological fervor that properly should raise questions about potential service on the bench.”

From “William Pryor: Too Extreme,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2003:

    “[H]is strident views have infused his public actions. He [s]upported the monument to the Ten Commandments, in the Alabama Supreme Court building, which a judge ordered removed.”

From “Beyond the Pale,” The New York Times, June 23, 2003:

    “Mr. Pryor has taken particularly outlandish positions on “federalism,” a dangerous states’ rights movement that seeks to take away federal rights.”

Suppose any of these editorial boards will run a retraction or an apology?

Maybe, at least they’ll run an honest acknowledgement of Pryor’s work to uphold the rulings of the court, right?


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