Bush appoints Pryor to bench

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor has drawn controversy since being nominated by President George Bush for a federal judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, but Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley thinks he'll do a good job.

He describes Pryor as a friend and predicts success for him on the federal level.

&uot;He's super intelligent

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

and very fair-minded,&uot; McAliley said. &uot;He will be an even better circuit judge than attorney general. He's very even-tempered and a very rational legal thinker. He'll do an excellent job.&uot;

Not all observers were as pleased. Pryor's conservative legal and political positions on issues of federalism, abortion, separation of church and state and criminal justice issues have drawn fire from numerous groups.

&uot;Many of President Bush's appellate court nominees have troubling records on a handful of issues. With Pryor's record, there's something to offend virtually every constituency in the country,&uot; wrote the Alliance for Justice in a prepared statement.

Pryor, a Republican,

became the youngest Attorney General in Alabama history when he was appointed in January of 1997, replacing Jeff Sessions, who was elected to the United States Senate. Pryor was elected in 1998 and won re-election over Democratic challenger Boyd Whigham in 2002. Before becoming a federal judge, he will have to be confirmed by the United States Senate.

&uot;I am honored that President Bush has nominated me to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit,&uot; Pryor said in a press release. &uot;I look forward to the confirmation process of the U.S. Senate. In the meantime, I will continue to strive, as Attorney General, to represent the people of Alabama with integrity, to the best of my ability, by upholding the Constitution and the laws of our nation and state.&uot;

Sessions, a Republican, lauded the nomination.

&uot;Bill Pryor's career has been marked by integrity, fairness and a keen legal mind, and he is eminently well qualified for a seat on the Eleventh Circuit,&uot; said Sessions, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Pryor's former employer.

Pryor was hired in 1995 by Sessions to become Deputy Attorney General in charge of special civil and constitutional litigation. The move followed Pryor's graduation from Tulane Law School and practice at two Birmingham law firms. Pryor, who makes $163,428 a year as AG, also taught classes at Cumberland Law School.

&uot;We have seen a number of outstanding nominees in the Judiciary Committee this year, but Pryor is one of the best,&uot; Sessions said. &uot;He has impressed me with his service as Alabama's Attorney General, administering justice in a fair and impartial manner, and making decisions based on the law, rather than on politics.&uot;

The push to install Pryor as a federal judge for the Eleventh Circuit, which covers Georgia, Alabama and Florida, won't come without a fight. The Senate has used filibuster to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit since February and Democrats promise to prevent packing of federal courts with conservative judges.