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Pryor’s Liberal & Transgender Supporters
January 16, 2017

Dear Allies,

Recently, there was a media report claiming that conservatives support Judge Pryor for the Supreme Court and liberals fear him.  That is not entirely true.

I suspect you are familiar with the conservative opposition to Pryor (JAG's concerns are detailed here), but the liberal and transgender support for Pryor is less publicized, and perhaps equally instructive.

Consider this headline from Slate.com last May:

“One of Trump’s SCOTUS Picks [Pryor] Supported a Revolutionary Pro-Trans Constitutional Ruling.”

In that article, Mark Joseph Stern, who “covers the law and LGBTQ issues”[1] for Slate, wrote:

“On Wednesday, Donald Trump released a list of judges he might nominate to the Supreme Court, should he win the presidency. Predictably, the list was packed with reactionary conservatives who would likely use their position to advance the Republican Party’s agenda from the bench. I initially included Judge William Pryor, a George W. Bush appointee on the 11th Circuit, in that group [of conservatives]; Pryor has, after all, issued rulings against contraceptive coverage and clean election laws.”

“But as ACLU attorney Daniel Tilley pointed out to me, Pryor also has one strikingly liberal case under his belt: He supported an absolutely revolutionary opinion in 2011 holding that anti-trans discrimination qualifies as sex discrimination and is thus generally forbidden under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Pryor didn’t write the decision -- it was authored by Pryor’s 11th Circuit colleague Judge Rosemary Barkett, a liberal firebrand -- but he did join it in full, suggesting he endorsed its logic and conclusion. If that’s true, then Pryor, as a Supreme Court justice, would be almost certain to invalidate the recent spate of anti-trans legislation, including North Carolina’s odius bathroom bill.”[2]

Stern concluded:

“Part of [the Glenn case’s] importance is its unanimity: There were no dissenters, no angry naysayers attempting to undermine the court’s airtight logic. And Pryor’s decision to fully join Barkett’s opinion gave the ruling a sheen of bipartisanship. Pryor may be severely conservative in other areas of the law. But on the topic of trans rights – the chief legal issues facing the LGBTQ community today – Pryor sounds like a true progressive.”[3]

Tilley and Stern are not the only liberals who appreciate Judge Pryor. Matt Hennie, writing for Project Q Atlanta, praised Pryor’s role in the Glenn transgender case, and concluded that “seven years into a lifetime appointment has turned the conservative Republican Pryor soft.”  Hennie concluded: “As for Pryor, he probably shouldn’t expect calls anytime soon from his soon-to-be former Republican friends looking for names to add to their short list for the next Supreme Court vacancy.”[4]
So, the liberals and bathroom insanity advocates are right for once. They know that Pryor’s role in the Glenn case was “absolutely revolutionary” creating new law “that anti-trans discrimination qualifies as sex discrimination.”  And here's the kicker, they claim that “Pryor, as a Supreme Court justice, would be almost certain to invalidate the recent spate of anti-trans legislation, including North Carolina’s odius bathroom bill [that is right now pending before the Supreme Court].”

Did you catch that?

These liberals believe that Judge Pryor would vote with them on the Supreme Court and force girls and women to share their restrooms, dressing rooms and intimate places with men who are operating under the fantasy that they are women.

Again, that is not my prediction – that is the prediction of liberals.  And based on Judge Pryor’s ruling in Glenn, that is a logical conclusion.

Clearly, liberals and transgender advocates have a lot to like about Judge Pryor’s judicial philosophy, and conservatives have a lot to be concerned about.

It is true that Judge Pryor votes conservative in some cases, but he is also very liberal and activist in others.  His judicial record is similar to that of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the liberal Republican Justice who votes conservative on some issues, but seems to almost always vote liberal on social issues.  (Kennedy is derided for his 2015 activist judicial opinion purporting to re-define marriage without any support in the Constitution.)

Trump has made it abundantly clear that he wants another Justice Scalia – which means he does not want another Anthony Kennedy. For that reason, I truly believe that President Trump would never nominate someone like Justice Kennedy, or someone like Judge Pryor who liberals hail as “a true progressive.”

As always, please earnestly pray for President-Elect Trump and his advisors. In fact, please do it right now. This decision is massive, and I truly believe Trump wants to pick the right person ... and I believe he will.
Phillip L. Jauregui
Judicial Action Group

[1] http://www.slate.com/authors.mark_stern.html
[2] Mark Joseph Stern, One of Trump’s SCOTUS Picks Supported a Revolutionary Pro-Trans Constitutional Ruling,  Slate, May 19, 2016, accessed Jan. 16, 2017, http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2016/05/19/judge_william_pryor_potential_trump_supreme_court_nominee_supports_trans.html
[3] Id.
[4] Matt Hennie, Anti-gay Judge Bill Pryor warms to Trans women, Project Q Atlanta, Dec. 1, 2011, accessed Jan. 16, 2017; available at http://www.projectq.us/atlanta/anti-gay_judge_bill_pryor_warms_to_trans_women?gid=9723 (published after oral argument in Glenn, but before the decision).