Just when you thought it was safe to be an American…again:
Even before last Tuesday’s election, speculation was running rampant about who might fill top jobs in a second Bush administration. Among those mentioned for U.S. attorney general: Mobile native and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor.
Publications ranging from The National Journal, a respected political weekly in Washington, D.C., to The Guardian newspaper in London have described Pryor as a candidate to replace U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, whom some expect to leave after almost four years in the job.
Pryor, now serving temporarily as a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, declined to comment Friday. Last year, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked his nomination to a lifetime appeals court slot, arguing that he is too ideological to make an even-handed judge.
Republican insiders disagree about whether Pryor is a serious contender for the nation’s top law enforcement job, with some labeling the prospect unlikely. In any case, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said last week that he intends to talk to President Bush about renominating Pryor for a permanent seat on the 11th Circuit.
That would be this Bill Pryor:
A protege of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Mr. Pryor is a parody of what Democrats imagine Mr. Bush to be plotting for the federal courts. We have argued strongly in favor of several of Mr. Bush’s nominees — and urged fair and swift consideration of all. And we have criticized Democratic attacks on nominees of substance and quality. But we have also urged Mr. Bush to look for common ground on judicial nominations, to address legitimate Democratic grievances and to seek nominees of such stature as defies political objection. The Pryor nomination shows that Mr. Bush has other ideas.
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. But his career is broader. He has urged the repeal of a key section of the Votings Rights Act, which he regards as “an affront to federalism and an expensive burden.” He has also called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” Whatever one thinks of Roe, it is offensive to rank it among the court’s most notorious cases, which include Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson, after all.
Mr. Pryor’s speeches display a disturbingly politicized view of the role of courts. He has suggested that impeachment is an appropriate remedy for judges who “repeatedly and recklessly . . . overturn popular will and . . . rewrite constitutional law.” And he talks publicly about judging in the vulgarly political terms of the current judicial culture war. He concluded one speech, for example, with the following prayer: “Please, God, no more Souters” — a reference to the betrayal many conservatives feel at the honorable career of Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.
Bill Pryor: John Ashcroft without the Crisco.
Added: (David/Bill mix-up corrected…sorry. White guys all look the same to me)