Judge Bill Pryor, on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and former Attorney General of Alabama, is on the shortest of short lists for Antonin Scalia’s seat.
Pryor, who succeeded Jeff Sessions as Alabama’s Attorney General once Sessions got to the Senate, is well connected within conservative circles, is well liked by the future United States Attorney General, and is considered one of the most conservative appellate judges in the country.
Several people have raised concerns about some of Pryor’s cases due to his rulings on gay rights and transgender issues, but his defenders say he was bound by clear precedent, which he would not be on the Court.
I spoke to a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and he told me that his personal preference is to find a nominee who is solidly and “rigorously” conservative who can put the Democrats in one of two boxes. They will either go along with the nominee, establishing a precedent that a staunchly conservative nominee is acceptable or they will refuse and give the Republicans the opportunity to blow up the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. His one concern on the issue of precedent is that, should the Democrats go along with the nominee, they may then later say it was only because it was Scalia’s seat, but then choose to fight for Ginsburg’s seat. This Senator very much wants to end the filibuster for the Supreme Court and believes the sooner the better on that front.
“We’re just finishing Harry’s legacy for him,” he chuckled, referencing Harry Reid’s abolition of the filibuster for lower court nominations.