As this report demonstrates, William Pryor has endeavored throughout his career to push the law to conform to his extreme right wing ideology and legal views. Based on Pryor’s record, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has concluded that Pryor’s nomination “is an affront to the basic premise that a candidate for the federal bench must exhibit respect for established constitutional principles and individual liberties. Pryor may be a good lawyer and a faithful Republican, but his lifelong extremism disqualifies him for a federal judgeship.” Editorial, “Right-wing Zealot is Unfit to Judge,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (May 6, 2003) (emphasis added).
The federal courts of appeal play a critical role in our judicial system, second in importance only to the Supreme Court. Because the Supreme Court hears so few cases, the courts of appeal really are the courts of last resort for most Americans, giving a federal appellate judge considerable power to impose his or her own jurisprudential views in a particular case. And particularly because the Supreme Court hears so few cases, the protection of civil and constitutional rights by the judiciary depends in large measure on the appellate courts.
William Pryor’s record as documented in this report, including his extreme right wing ideology, does not support elevating him to a lifetime position on the Eleventh Circuit. Far from meeting the burden of demonstrating a record of commitment to “protecting the rights of ordinary Americans” and to “the progress made on civil rights, women’s rights and individual liberties,” Pryor has tried to turn back the clock on these significant matters. In testimony that Pryor gave before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1997, Pryor told the committee that “your role of advice and consent in judicial nominations cannot be overstated.”105 We could not agree more. Ordinary Americans cannot afford to have William Pryor sitting in judgment on their rights and interests. The Senate Judiciary Committee should reject Pryor’s confirmation.