Pryor’s supporters have made much of the fact that Pryor supported the repeal of Alabama’s constitutional ban on interracial marriage in 2000. But that provision had been rendered unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 30 years earlier. While Pryor’s position was praiseworthy, Pryor’s public support for repeal of an unenforceable measure does nothing to offset the potential consequences of his states’ rights extremism and his support for efforts to weaken or eliminate key enforcement mechanisms of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Pryor’s supporters, including Sen. Orrin Hatch and a number of Religious Right political leaders, have tried to suggest that opposition to Pryor’s confirmation is a reflection of religious bias against Catholic nominees. In fact, it was Hatch who introduced the question of Pryor’s religious beliefs into the confirmation hearing over the strenuous objections of Sen. Patrick Leahy. Opposition to Pryor’s confirmation is grounded firmly in his clear public record and his far-right legal and judicial philosophy, not his religious beliefs. Hatch seems to be trying to stake out an entirely unreasonable position that it is a reflection of bias to criticize a nominee’s judicial philosophy if it can be claimed that the nominee’s legal views are related to his or her religious beliefs. It is a long and disreputable tradition for Religious Right leaders to cry religious bigotry in response to any criticism of their political agenda or tactics. It is repugnant for Sen. Hatch to adopt the same divisive tactics regarding judicial nominees and criticism of their legal and judicial philosophies.