by Gualberto Garcia-Jones
Public Policy Director, Personhood Alliance
In a recent column about federal appellate judge William Pryor, who is on President-Elect Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, I expressed concern that Pryor seemed too willing to serve the powers that be in the judiciary. His prosecution of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in 2003 when Pryor was Alabama Attorney General seemed a red flag to me. I was particularly disturbed by his misplaced comparison of himself to St. Thomas More. “Pryor’s prosecution of Chief Justice Moore,” I concluded, “should cast serious doubts upon his ability to resist the temptation of an all-powerful judiciary, one that makes lawyers into tyrants to rule over the nation.” “The Time One of Trump’s ‘Best’ Supreme Court Picks Destroyed a Christian Judge’s Career,” Lifesitenews.net (Dec. 13, 2016).
But one need not go back 500 years in history to the time of St. Thomas More or even back to the prosecution of Chief Justice Moore in 2003 to prove Judge Pryor’s unfitness to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. In two cases decided on the same day in 2011, Judge Pryor as an Eleventh Circuit judge voted (1) that the Equal Protection Clause required reinstatement of a male employee who had been fired for wanting to appear at work dressed as a woman and (2) that a state university did not violate the speech or religious rights of a Christian student who was expelled from a graduate counseling program for refusing to submit to homosexual indoctrination. These radical liberal opinions, neither of which was in any sense required by precedent, indicate that Pryor would be a very dangerous pick for the Supreme Court.
In Glenn v. Brumby, 663 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2011), Pryor joined two other liberal judges in a unanimous opinion that a male employee who was fired after announcing that he would henceforth be dressing as a woman at work was protected from “employment discrimination” by the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Engaging in a radical expansion of sex-discrimination law, Pryor voted that firing a man who wanted to dress like a woman at work was “sexual stereotyping” forbidden by a 1989 Supreme Court decision. But even minds far less sophisticated than Judge Pryor understand that requiring a man not to wear a dress at work is not “sexual stereotyping,” but simple recognition of the Biblical and anatomical fact that God has created us male and female. Genesis 5:2. In Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley, 664 F.3d 865 (11th Cir. 2011), a student, who wished to be able to counsel patients that homosexuality was not a healthy lifestyle, was expelled from a masters-degree program in counseling at Augusta State University in Georgia after refusing to attend a “reeducation” program to change her Christian beliefs. Judge Pryor joined an opinion that found the expulsion did not violate her free speech or religious rights.
These atrocious decisions in my view completely disqualify Judge Pryor as a successor to Justice Scalia who, I imagine, would have written stinging dissents in both cases. Even more disturbing, however, is the prospect that President-Elect Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment, if confirmed by the end of March, will join the Court in time to rule on a pending case in which a girl, under the delusion that she is a boy, is seeking access to the boy’s rest room at a Virginia high school. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled last spring that the Obama administration directive to all public schools that they must allow such nonsense at the risk of losing federal funding was entitled to “deference” as a discretionary administrative act. Do we really want to have Judge Pryor sitting on the Supreme court to decide this case, when he ruled only five years ago that a man pretending to be a woman in the workplace was protected from being fired by the U.S. Constitution? This is originalism? Did the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 really contemplate that people who want to change into the opposite sex were covered by the Equal Protection Clause? Was the Civil War fought to enable men to invade women’s bathrooms and vice versa?
Pryor is a strange bird. Although he had called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” at his confirmation hearing to be a judge on the Eleventh Circuit he genuflected to Roe v. Wade. Asked how, if confirmed, he would handle an abortion case, he saluted the abortion flag. “Even though I strongly disagree with Roe v. Wade I have acted in accordance with it as Attorney General and would continue to do so as a Court of Appeals Judge.” “Can we rely on that?” the committee chairman asked. Pryor’s answer? “You can take it to the bank, Mr. Chairman.” When asked if he would like to see Roe v. Wade reversed, he first refused to give a straight answer and then said that he had recently urged the Nebraska Attorney General, who then had an abortion case pending before the Supreme Court, not to request the Court to overrule Roe v. Wade. When a Senator said that his answer made no sense in light of his opinion of the illegitimacy of Roe v. Wade, Pryor said: “Well, Senator, all I can tell you is that the last time the Court had that opportunity, I urged my colleague not to present that question to the Court.”
A recent CNN story described Pryor as a “top contender” to replace Scalia. If that is true, we all should be deeply concerned. If Roe has so corrupted the judiciary that no true pro-life judge can be found to succeed Scalia, then Mr. Trump should look beyond the judiciary for his nominee—perhaps to the Senator from Texas.