Monday, November 08, 2004


Even before last Tuesday's election, speculation was running rampant about who might fill top jobs in a second Bush administration. Among those mentioned for U.S. attorney general: Mobile native and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor.

Publications ranging from The National Journal, a respected political weekly in Washington, D.C., to The Guardian newspaper in London have described Pryor as a candidate to replace U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, whom some expect to leave after almost four years in the job.

Pryor, now serving temporarily as a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, declined to comment Friday. Last year, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked his nomination to a lifetime appeals court slot, arguing that he is too ideological to make an even-handed judge.

--Mobile Register

I told you about Pryor and the hitching post, right?

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. In 1995, Alabama was the only state in the country that still used chain gangs and the only one that used the hitching post. 536 U.S. at 733. 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.” 536 U.S. at 734. 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.’” 536 U.S. at 734-35.

Pryor’s brief contended that Mr. Hope had not been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment....

Not a big separation-of-church-and-state fan, either: 1997 he stated, “[t]he American experiment is not a theocracy and does not establish an official religion, but the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. The challenge of the next millennium will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective.”

And he was a longtime ally of Judge Roy Moore.

Abortion? Gay rights? Federalism? As bad as you'd imagine. (Details here.)

But from a purely tactical point of view, if I were fighting this nomination, I wouldn't talk about abortion or gay rights, subjects about which Americans disagree strongly. I'd talk about that damn hitching post.

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