Over the weekend I was reading about Bill Pryor, one of Bush's horrible judicial nominees. I knew about his avowed opposition to abortion and his boast that he rescheduled a family vacation to Disney World to avoid a gathering of gay park attendees -- but I didn't know about this, as reported by People for the American Way:
In Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002), Pryor vigorously defended Alabama’s practice of handcuffing prison inmates to hitching posts in the hot sun if they refused to work on chain gangs or otherwise disrupted them....The post was a horizontal bar to which inmates were handcuffed “in a standing position and remain[ed] standing the entire time they [were] placed on the post.” The plaintiff in this case, Larry Hope, charged that he had been handcuffed to a hitching post twice, one time for seven hours, during which he was shirtless “while the sun burned his skin. . . During this 7-hour period, he was given water only once or twice and was given no bathroom breaks. At one point, a guard taunted Hope about his thirst. According to Hope’s affidavit: ‘[The guard] first gave water to some dogs, then brought the water cooler closer to me, removed its lid, and kicked the cooler over, spilling the water onto the ground.’
Pryor’s brief contended that Mr. Hope had not been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment....Pryor contended that the use of the hitching post was justified because the Alabama Department of Corrections considered it to be “a cost-effective, safe and relatively pain-free way to impel inmates to work.” Pryor also argued than even if Hope’s Eighth Amendment rights had been violated, the prison officers named as defendants were immune from suit because they had not violated a “clearly established” right.
The Supreme Court rejected both of Pryor’s arguments.
When I read this, I wondered what the hell is wrong with Democrats that they haven't publicized Pryor's advocacy of sick, sadistic behavior that's transparently cruel and unusual. Then I realized that nearly all Americans -- including most liberals I know -- believe that convicted criminals have no rights and deserve about as much consideration as sewer rats. Reader, I hope you're an exception.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has some good stuff on Pryor -- this story and this one, much of it focusing on Pryor's defense of the 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had installed in the state's Judicial Building. Pryor has ralied support for Moore and, as the state's attorney general, deputized private lawyers affiliated with Religious Right legal groups to defend Moore in court (the effort failed).
Moore also allows clergymen to lead prayers in his courtroom -- Christian and Jewish clergymen only -- a practice Pryor has refused to criticize:
According to the April 4, 1997, AP account, Pryor “said the state has no position on whether Moore’s right to pray and have a religious display in his courtroom extends to people of other faiths. Pryor said he did not know whether the rights of non-Christians would be violated if they were barred from praying in Moore’s court.”
Pryor has a peculiar view of the Supreme Court's role in American life:
...in March 1997, Pryor told The Alabama Baptist that Supreme Court precedent does not always need to be adhered to by state officials. The newspaper reported that Pryor did not say that the executive branch could ignore the ruling of the judicial branch, but he said there are ways the executive branch “does not have to implement rulings with which it disagrees.”
This is a very, very bad guy.