"Unfit To Judge"-so said the headline above the editorial in the Washington Post.
The May 11 piece was a vicious attack on Alabama State Attorney General Bill Pryor, one of that state’s conservative leaders, who has been nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
The usual cast of left-wing interest groups is now gearing up to savage Pryor, hoping to add him to the list of stalled Bush nominations that already features Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen.
Asked if the administration expected the left to wage an Estrada-style fight against Pryor, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "I think you have to address questions about obstruction to people who would engage in them. I can’t predict what the Senate opponents would do."
The Post attacked the 40-year-old Pryor as "a zealous advocate of relaxing the wall between church and state," and an opponent of Roe v. Wade. Pryor has called this decision "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history."
People for the American Way President Ralph Neas said Pryor represented "an unfortunate continuation of this administration’s efforts to pack the appeals courts with divisive far-right nominees."
Pryor has addressed right-to-life rallies and helped persuade a federal judge not to halt implementation of a state law requiring physicians to talk with women about the medical risks of abortion. He has also defended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s display of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Alone among state attorneys general, Pryor would not join the suit against the tobacco industry that yielded more than $200 billion. In 1999 he said "human liberty cannot survive much more of this litigation madness."
Yet, Pryor does have Democratic supporters. Former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and Terry Butts, who ran against Pryor for attorney general three years ago, hail his credentials and integrity. Two prominent African-American Democrats, State Rep. Alvin Holmes and Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Alvin Holmes, endorse him, recalling how he campaigned to remove the state constitution’s ban on interracial marriage and supported anti-cross burning legislation. Former State Attorney General Bill Baxley, who prosecuted the first killer in the 1963 Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham, is also supporting him.
Pryor told me, "I look forward to the confirmation process." He would be a "witness for the truth," he said.