William Pryor Testimony Regarding 'Gay Days' Decision

Senate Judiciary Committee | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT
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(Editor's Note: The following is the June 11, 2003 testimony of William Pryor regarding 'Gay Days' decision.)

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WIS): In a recent brief to the Supreme Court, you equated private consensual sexual activity between homosexuals to prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.

In addition, your office defended a statute that denied funding to a gay-lesbian-bisexual alliance, a student organization. The 11th Circuit unanimously declared the statute unconstitutional.

Furthermore, as deputy attorney general, you joined an amicus brief in the Rohmer v. Evans arguing that local governments in Colorado were prohibited from enacting laws to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

The Supreme Court later rejected your view, but you call the decision undemocratic.

News accounts also report that you even went so far as to schedule a family vacation at Disney World in order to avoid Gay Day.

In light of this record, can you understand why a gay plaintiff or defendant would feel uncomfortable coming before you as a judge? And I'd like to give you this opportunity to explain why these concerns may or may not be justified.

WILLIAM H. "BILL" PRYOR: I think my record as attorney general shows that I will uphold and enforce the law.

In the Lawrence case, the first that you mentioned, I was upholding and urging the Supreme Court to reaffirm its decision of 1986 in Bowers v. Hardwick, which is the law of the land. And the argument to which you referred, the slippery slope argument, was taken from Justice White's majority opinion for the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the second instance that you mentioned, the 11th Circuit case involving university facilities and funds for homosexual groups in Alabama, that argument was presented by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, not by me. And in fact, by the time the decision came down, I was attorney general, but I did not file any papers to quarrel with the decision, because, in fact, I agreed with it.

When we worked together in the attorney general's office, I declined to participate in that case for General Sessions, because I had agreed with the district court ruling, and I agreed then with the 11th Circuit's ruling.

In the case of Rohmer v. Evans, General Sessions again was the attorney general at the time. I was his deputy attorney general, but he was the one who made the final decision. I have criticized the Rohmer decision.

As far as my family vacation is concerned, my wife and I had two daughters who at the time of that vacation were 6 and 4, and we made a value judgment. And that was our personal decision.

But my record as attorney general is that I will uphold and enforce the law, particularly, as I mentioned in my first example, in the Lawrence case, that the brief that we filed defending Alabama law, which prohibits sodomy between unmarried persons, follows the Supreme Court's precedent.

FEINGOLD: Well, I certainly respect going to Disney World with two daughters. I've done the same thing.

But are you saying that you actually made that decision on purpose to be away at the time of that...

PRYOR: We made a value judgment and changed our plan and went on another weekend.

FEINGOLD: I appreciate your candor on that.

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