The chances are good that William Pryor is at the top of Donald Trump’s list of nominees to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
William Pryor, however, would be a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” choice to take Scalia’s seat on the bench.
(For a profile of Judge Pryor’s judicial career, go here.)
This is for several reasons. First, Pryor shares responsibility for a court ruling that invented special rights for transgenders out of the judicial ether. The case, Glenn v. Bumbry, involved the case of a man who suddenly started showing up to work wearing a dress and wanting to use the same restroom facilities female employees used. This understandably created consternation for those female employees, and the man was understandably and properly let go. But the 11th Circuit ruled that, no, the women in that office were just going to have to suck it up and endure the invasion of their privacy and the disturbance of their work environment.
Despite a reputation for being an originalist who is guided by the Constitution and the law, Pryor joined that 11th Circuit ruling which conjured up these special protections with absolutely no constitutional or statutory warrant. Special rights for transgenders are not spelled out anywhere in the Constitution, even in its emanations and penumbras, and there is no law that grants them special rights either. No matter to Judge Pryor.
Special employment rights based on this particular form of sexual abnormality did not exist before William Pryor, and then poof, with his help, they magically appeared. This misbegotten ruling remains a landmark ruling in the granting of special acknowledgements and protections based on sexually deviant behavior, and it has Pryor’s fingerprints all over it.
Second, William Pryor kicked Nancy Keeton out of a counseling program at Georgia State University because she would not embrace and endorse the homosexual lifestyle. And Pryor sent her to a re-education camp to boot, to get her mind right, Soviet-style, so that she would think about homosexuality the way she’s supposed to.
Ms. Keeton simply wanted to get training to be able to help people with their problems. However, she believed the best way to help someone trapped in homosexuality was to help them escape, as you would do for anyone trapped in a self-destructive and addictive lifestyle. But Ms. Keeton had no desire to prevent such clients from receiving counseling from others. She was perfectly content to help would-be homosexual clients get therapy from someone who affirmed homosexuality. She had no intentions of imposing anything on anybody.
In fact, it was her professional and ethical duty to help such individuals find help from someone else. There are standards that apply in the counseling profession for situations like this, and it would have been professionally irresponsible for Ms. Keeton to take on a client under these conditions. She could have gotten in quite serious trouble if she did not refer them.
But that mattered not to Judge Pryor, who issued a concurring opinion upholding the university’s decision to unceremoniously dump Ms. Keeton out on the street and terminate her pursuit of her chosen career, trampling her right to the free exercise of religion in the process.
And third, William Pryor kicked Judge Roy Moore off the bench and out of the judiciary entirely for Moore’s public acknowledgment of the Ten Commandments. As the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Judge Moore displayed a copy of the Decalogue in the supreme court building, as was his right. The building was legally and morally entirely under his control.
As Democrat president Harry Truman observed, when addressing the Attorney General’s Conference in February 1950, “The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount ... I don't think we emphasize that enough these days.” Moses’ visage looms over the rostrum occupied by the Speaker of the House, his image is prominently displayed on the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., and the Ten Commandments are etched into the doors through which people pass on their way into the Supreme Court chambers. You cannot even walk into the National Archives without crossing a copy of the Ten Commandments inlaid in the floor of the entrance.
All that mattered not a whit to Judge Pryor, who as Alabama Attorney General at the time actually prosecuted Judge Moore and got him thrown off the bench and out of his building.
Now Judge Pryor will certainly claim he was bound by precedent in these rulings. He wasn’t. Supreme Court precedents do get overturned, and the only way that happens is if a federal judge somewhere along the line issues a ruling that challenges existing precedent and the Court eventually accepts an appeal. That’s how we got Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas, and Obergefell. Lawrence and Obergefell in particular overturned existing Supreme Court precedents from 1986 and 1972 respectively. So let’s not let the media or Judge Pryor lie to us about the sacredness and inviolability of precedent.
This is not to say that Pryor is a bad judge across the board. He is a firm and unbending critic of Roe, and has for the most part been solid on religious liberty and criminal justice issues.
Pryor is under consideration to replace Antonin Scalia, a man who was committed to applying the Constitution as written by the Founders. But while back in the day Pryor criticized the Lawrence opinion, he now appears to have regrettably evolved on the matter of homosexuality. Antonin Scalia never did. Scalia issued scathing denunciations of the Lawrence opinion, that essentially legalized sodomy everywhere in the country, and Obergefell, which legalized sodomy-based marriage while ignoring the Constitution and 6000 years of recorded history.
Bottom line: William Pryor is no Antonin Scalia and should not be permitted to take his place on the bench. He is not worthy.