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TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Federal bench can use a judge like Bill Pryor

Former state Attorney General Bill Pryor displayed common sense and moderation in his first 15 months as a judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

That may shock liberal critics who believe Mr. Pryor is biding his time as a temporary appointment, waiting until after his confirmation to a lifetime judgeship to show his true, ultra-conservative colors.

But those who have closely followed the young former prosecutor's political career know that, above all, Mr. Pryor is his own man. He has strong personal convictions and leans to the right on issues like abortion and gay rights, but, above all, Mr. Pryor believes in the rule of law.

Liberals who fear that Judge Pryor would blur the line separating church and state conveniently forget that it was Mr. Pryor, as attorney general, who prosecuted Roy Moore before the Court of the Judiciary for the chief justice's defiance of a court order to remove his Ten Commandments display from the state judicial building.

Mr. Pryor's prosecution of Justice Moore showed that he is able to set aside his personal beliefs when it comes to his responsibility to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines last week to recommend Mr. Pryor for a lifetime appointment. A partisan battle looms on the Senate floor. Democrats are threatening a filibuster to block Mr. Pryor's confirmation. Republicans have countered with a threat of the "nuclear option," a change in long-standing Senate rules that would prohibit filibusters on judicial nominees.

Both of those tactics seem too extreme in this case.

The federal courts could do a lot worse than have a man like Mr. Pryor on the bench.

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