Civil Rights Coalition Outraged by Bush’s Recess Appointment of William Pryor

Media 02.20,04

WASHINGTON – “As a sop to his right wing base during a contentious election year, President Bush’s recess appointment of William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is another example of the President’s strategy to pack the courts with extremist judges hostile to protecting the civil rights of all Americans,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition.

“William Pryor’s record of undermining civil, constitutional, and human rights demonstrates how far outside the American mainstream he is,” Henderson continued.

“Pryor’s ideological agenda of limiting Congress’s ability to pass laws aimed at protecting against discrimination and inequality should disqualify him from a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary. Instead, that very record prompted President Bush to bypass Congress and use extraordinary methods to ensure that Pryor sits on the nation’s second highest federal court. The recess appointment of William Pryor is a slap in the face to the cause of civil rights and shows profound disregard for the Senate’s role of ‘advice and consent,'” said Henderson.

“LCCR has not opposed all judicial recess appointments,” Henderson stated. “LCCR supported the recess appointment of Roger Gregory in 2000 to the Fourth Circuit by President Clinton. Gregory’s elevation had broad bi-partisan support, including the support of both Republican senators from his home state of Virginia. Gregory’s appointment also integrated the Fourth Circuit, which has the largest concentration of African-American citizens of any circuit, and placed an individual on the court with a commitment to civil rights. The Pryor appointment puts a judge on the court whose anti-civil rights views are well known. Further, this appointment flies in the face of strong opposition by virtually every Democratic member of the Senate.”

“With his recess appointment of the controversial nominee Charles Pickering and now William Pryor, President Bush has become a divider, far from being a ‘uniter,’– causing huge rifts in what once was a strong bi-partisan consensus on civil rights protections.”