Pryor gets go-ahead vote from Judiciary Committee

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Senate Judiciary Committee, split 10-9 along party lines, on Wednesday voted to send Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor's nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to the full Senate.

Pryor's nomination has drawn the fire of liberal groups claiming his conservative philosophy would hinder his ability to perform as an appellate judge. His backing of states rights, school prayer and

his opposition to abortion have become central issues in the committee's debate.

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He now faces a confirmation vote by the full Senate. According to a report in the Washington Post, the Democratic leadership has not said whether Pryor's confirmation would face a filibuster similar to that of nominees Miguel A. Estrada and Pricilla R. Owen, but some Democrats have suggested a filibuster is likely.

"It still could be a pretty good fight on the Senate floor," said Lawrence Bowden, chairman of Pike County's Republican Party. "I don't know of they'll abide by the committee's decision."

Bowden said he'd been following Pryor's nomination process.

"I was apprehensive about it (the committee vote) this morning and I'm glad to get the news (of Pryor's committee vote)," he said.

For Bowden, Pryor's personal ideology lines up with those of many Americans.

"I think his personal feelings are reflective of a large number of Americans…but I also think that Pryor will follow the rule of law and as a judge he'll make his decisions based on the law," he said.

County Democratic Committee Chairman John Key agreed that a judge has to base decisions on the law, rather than political or religious sentiments.

From the Democratic Party standpoint, we'd obviously like to have a Democrat," he said. "but…what we want is a good person in there who would make decisions based on fairness and what's best for the majority of the people."

Key said he knows Pryor and has had several meetings - both from his time as a county school superintendent and later - and that Pryor was knowledgeable about the issues.

"Based on my personal talks with him, he knew about the issues that were concerning me a Pike County Superintendent of Education and from that standpoint he was just as knowledgeable as anyone. We would hope that he would make his decisions…in the best interest of everyone in this country and that means Republican or Democrat," he said.