Washington Blade - June 17, 2005
The Senate compromise earlier this month that preserved the
minority's right to filibuster but allowed three of Bush's most
controversial nominees to be put to a vote, resulted in the
confirmation of William Pryor, a judge described by Lambda Legal
Executive Director Kevin Cathcart as "the most anti-gay nominee
While the Human Rights Campaign lauded the Senate compromise as a
device that might allow Democrats to block an extreme Supreme
Court nominee, some felt the compromise was a capitulation and
delayed an inevitable confrontation over the Republican's
"nuclear option" when the president nominates a conservative for
the nation's highest court.
Still smarting over the confirmation of Judge Pryor, Lambda Legal
and other civil rights organizations have shifted gears to focus
on another Bush judicial nominee who is seen as a threat to gay
men and lesbians.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle of North Carolina, first
nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President George H. W.
Bush, was re-nominated by President George W. Bush to the 4th
Circuit, which hears appeals from trial-level federal courts in
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South
Michael Adams, director of education and public affairs for
Lambda Legal, said that a Boyle appointment would bode ill for
gays because Boyle has undermined the fairness and integrity of
judicial proceedings when it comes to civil rights.
"The bottom line is that Terrence Boyle has a history of
unremitting hostility to the Americans with Disabilities Act,
which is the most import federal law that protects people with
HIV," Adams said. "When Boyle rules, as he has done, that an
employer's irrational fears about a disability is a sufficient
defense, we can imagine what this would mean for people with
Boyle could not be reached for comment.
Because most judges have not ruled on gay issues, Adams said,
Lambda Legal has created a Web site with a checklist on how a
nominee's record will likely play out on gay issues.
Bad on choice, bad for gays?
"Certain things are clear predictors. Somebody who is bad on
choice is going to be bad on gay issues," Adams said. "We have
got to take a more informed choice about this. It is not just
blatant homophobes or people who are homophobes on the record
that are problems for us."
Groups opposing Boyle's nomination note that he has been reversed
more often than any other federal judge nominated by Bush, and
that he has been repeatedly reversed on civil rights rulings in
the 4th Circuit, which is regarded by many as the most
conservative federal appeals court in the country.
Margaret Moore, director of the National Center for Women &
Policing asked senators to reject Boyle because he has refused to
address gender discrimination.
Elliot Mincberg, vice president and legal director for People for
the American Way, said that the real test of the Senate
filibuster compromise will be seen in how the remaining nominees,
such as Boyle, are handled.
Mincberg said the moderate Republicans, such as those who were
involved in crafting the Senate filibuster compromise, will be
key to blocking any of the remaining nominees.
"Even though we lost the Pryor vote it was encouraging that we at
least got three Republicans voting against him, this is a sign of
progress," Mincberg said.
Over the next week, PFAW volunteers will be making calls to get
the word out about Boyle's record and to urge Democrats to
sustain the filibuster, he added.