President Bypasses Senate Democrats To Appoint William Pryor To
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 23, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--President George W. Bush on Friday took advantage of a Congressional break to appoint William H. Pryor Jr. to a federal appeals court.
Last year, more than 60 disability organizations joined Senate Democrats in opposing Pryor's appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which handles appeals in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Bush's appointment effectively bypassed the Senate confirmation process which Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had effectively stalled for months with a filibuster.
"The president has divided the American people and the Senate with his controversial judicial nominees, and none is more controversial than Mr. Pryor," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the panel.
"Judicial activists like Mr. Pryor are committed to an ideological agenda that puts corporate interests over the public's interests and that would roll back the hard-won rights of consumers, minorities, women and Americans with disabilities," Leahy said Friday.
Disability groups that opposed Pryor's confirmation included the National Coalition for Disability Rights, the National Council on Independent Living, National Association of the Deaf, American Association of People with Disabilities, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, and the Independent Living Center of Birmingham, Alabama.
In a statement last summer, NCDR president Jim Ward said: "The disability community is opposed to the confirmation of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor because we do not believe a person with a disability would receive a fair hearing from a 'Judge Pryor.'"
The groups pointed out that Pryor is on record opposing the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he has called an "illegal mandate".
"Pryor has fought aggressively to prevent people with disabilities from enforcing their rights against states under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act," the statement read.
"Pryor has denied any existence of evidence regarding discrimination by the States -- including documented instances of forced sterilization of individuals with disabilities, unnecessary institutionalization, denial of education and healthcare, and systemic prejudices and stereotyping perpetrated by state actors."
This is the second time this year President Bush has taken advantage of the Congressional recess to seat controversial nominees. Last month, Bush used the same recess-appointment tactic to appoint federal district judge Charles W. Pickering to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Democrats claim that the President's nominations of Pickering and Pryor represent a sharp shift toward a radically conservative agenda.
Pryor was sworn in immediately in Alabama on Friday.
Those who oppose Pryor's confirmation are encouraged to continue letting their lawmakers know of their views. If he is not confirmed by the full Senate, his appointment is set to expire at the end of 2005.
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