The confirmation of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sends a clear message to the country: the Republican Party is a party of extremists.
Forget party unity, deeply held beliefs, advise and consent, filibusters and nuclear options, the "gang of 14 moderates" and the entire circus that is Washington, D. C. The 53 senators who handed Pryor a lifetime seat on the appellate bench are not moderates; they are not even conservatives. And they certainly are not supporters of the U. S. Constitution.
They are extremists who oppose basic human rights. Their vote proves it.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese criticized what he said was Pryor's "demonstrated track record of bias against the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans."
"As Alabama's attorney general, Pryor consistently demonstrated bias against GLBT Americans, linking the state website to anti-gay advocacy groups. In an amicus (“friend of the court") brief filed in the Lawrence vs. Texas case, Pryor compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia. Last year, after receiving a recess appointment to the 11th Circuit, Pryor cast the deciding vote to deny rehearing a challenge to Florida's anti-gay adoption law." -- Human Rights Campaign
Glenn Sugameli, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice, called Pryor an activist judge "who stood alone among the 50 state attorneys general in challenging the constitutionality of significant portions of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act." -- Environment News Service
In the words of Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron, "Underscoring the president's drive to pack the courts with agenda-driven, partisan activists, Bill Pryor's record has something to offend nearly every constituency."
"He has been an outspoken opponent of worker and consumer rights, reproductive rights, environmental protections, the separation of church and state, gay and lesbian rights, and the rights of the accused," Aron said.
"He has also been a staunch advocate for big tobacco, states' rights and the gun lobby. His elevation to a lifetime seat is a blow to rights and protections for ordinary Americans," Aron added. -- townhall.com
Pryor's nomination and confirmation were praised, however, by religious leaders including James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, and Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America.
"Hopefully the Democrats have learned that their devious attacks on Judge Pryor's 'deeply held beliefs' were exposed as a mean-spirited attempt to impose an unconstitutional religious test on a public official. The 'No Judges of Faith Need Apply' mentality should never rear its discriminatory head again in the U.S. Senate," said LaRue (following Pryor's confirmation vote). -- townhall.com
Only three Republican senators broke rank with the party of extremists to oppose Pryor's confirmation -- Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
So much for the moderation of leading senators like John McCain and Chuck Hagel, men adept at playing footsie with the media to project a fanciful image. Fogedaboudit: when the party calls, they always tumble together into the big brass bed with all the self-righteous members of the far right.
No surprise, though. The overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress are joined at the hip with George W. Bush, William Pryor and James Dobson. Any lingering doubt was demolished by the Pryor vote.
That's a message all of us, including Republicans, ignore at our peril.