Legal Group Files Brief to Defend Pryor Recess Appointment

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:30pm EDT

( - A legal group is filing a friend-of-the-court brief defending President Bush's recess appointment of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which specializes in constitutional law, is urging the appeals court to reject Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) challenge to the validity of Pryor's appointment.

"The fact is that President Bush has the clear authority to name recess appointments to the federal judiciary," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, which supported the Pryor nomination.

"This legal challenge to remove Judge Pryor from the bench is unprecedented and is a desperate political move that is without merit. Senator Kennedy and others are blocking President Bush's judicial nominees -- refusing to permit the nominees from getting an up-or-down confirmation vote on the Senate floor," Sekulow said.

"There would have been no need for a recess appointment if Senator Kennedy did not put up a roadblock in the form of a filibuster to the nomination of Judge Pryor," he added.

"The President acted in a constitutional and appropriate manner in making the recess appointment -- and merely responded to the obstructionist tactics that a minority in the Senate have been utilizing for some time," Sekulow said.

The brief contends that Bush exercised proper constitutional authority in making the Pryor appointment and argues that it would be inappropriate for the court to intervene in an in-house dispute in the Senate. The Senate is capable of handing such issues without judiciary involvement, the brief argues.

"If the obstructive minority of senators would simply allow an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Judge Pryor, all uncertainty henceforth would disappear upon Judge Pryor's prompt confirmation," the brief states.

"It is only because Senator Kennedy and certain of his colleagues insist on keeping this nominee in confirmation limbo, despite his majority support, that Judge Pryor is not now a judge confirmed to a permanent seat on the Eleventh Circuit," the brief adds.

"Given that Senator Kennedy is the source of the problem of which he complains, and given that this powerful senator doubtless has the political clout immediately to end the filibuster of Judge Pryor's nomination, Senator Kennedy should not be heard to complain of the supposed uncertainty caused by Judge Pryor's status as a recess appointee," it states.

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