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The Washington Blade
Activists target Boyle as Pryor is confirmed: Lambda urges block of new judicial nominee
Eartha Melzer,
June 17, 2005
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 in memory." 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 Carolina.

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 HIV." 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.