AU Urges Senate to Reject Bill Pryor for Appeals Court. (People & Events)

Church & State, July-August 2003 | Go to article overview

AU Urges Senate to Reject Bill Pryor for Appeals Court. (People & Events)


Americans United and other public interest groups joined forces last month to urge the Senate to reject the nomination of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a seat on the federal appeals court.

Pryor was recently chosen for a slot on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush. Americans United and the other groups argue that Pryor is unfit for the position because of his extreme agenda and close ties to the Religious Right.

The organizations held a joint press conference June 10 in Washington. Groups taking part alongside Americans United included the NAACP, the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People For the American Way and the Sierra Club.

Several other organizations also issued statements in opposition to Pryor. Among them were Americans for Democratic Action, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Council of Jewish Women and the National Coalition for Disability Rights.

"Pryor's political career has literally been a crusade to 'Christianize' America through government action," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, at the press conference. "This is a dangerous and divisive agenda, and he must not be given a seat 6n our federal courts to promote it."

Americans United also issued a report, "Pryor Offenses: Federal Court Nominee Bill Pryor's Record Of Extremism," which examined Pryor's controversial record in detail. According to the report, Pryor:

* Has bitterly criticized Supreme Court rulings upholding "the so-called wall of separation between church and state." At an Oct. 19, 1999, debate in Dallas sponsored by the local affiliate of the Federalist Society, he insisted that the First Amendment does not mandate "the strict separation of church and state."

* Has argued that Christianity is an integral part of the American constitutional order. In a 1997 speech at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Ala., he said, "The American experiment is not a theocracy and does not establish an official religion, but the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. The challenge of the next millennium will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective."

* Has used his office to inflame public opinion against court rulings upholding church-state separation. In April of 1997, he appeared at a "Save the Commandments" rally in Montgomery in support of Roy Moore, a state judge under fire for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

Pryor framed the legal fight as a religious crusade, telling the crowd, "God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time, this place for all Christians--Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox--to save our country and save our courts."

* Has argued that states should be free to ignore federal court rulings they dislike. …

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