2003 Scorecard Vote
The Bush administration has amassed a long track record of nominating federal judges who are hostile to basic environmental safeguards. But few nominees have boasted stronger anti-environmental credentials than Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor, nominated in April 2003 for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which handles appeals from federal district courts in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Pryor has been criticized by conservationists for his exceptionally aggressive attacks on core national environmental safeguards. He was alone among 50 state attorneys general in challenging the constitutionality of significant portions of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. In testimony before Congress, he said that the EPA had "invaded the province of the states" by using its Clean Air Act authority to reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants and oil refineries (even though the pollution harms downwind states). He has also demonstrated hostility to claims of environmental injustice, stating unequivocally that "environmental racism claims should fail generally."
In his home state of Alabama, Pryor has repeatedly failed to compel corporate polluters to comply with environmental laws. And in his oral and written responses to questions from Senators probing his environmental record, Pryor has been unresponsive and evasive about the proper role of the federal government in safeguarding our air, water, wildlife, and natural habitats. Conservationists warned that Pryor's confirmation could have significant repercussions for environmental protection in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and beyond.
During Senate floor consideration, opponents mounted a filibuster of Pryor's confirmation. Pryor's supporters then moved to invoke cloture, thus cutting off debate and clearing the way for a vote. On July 31, 2003, the Senate voted 53-44 to defeat the cloture motion (Senate roll call vote 316). NO is the pro-environment vote. The tally fell short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. A later cloture vote also failed, and at press time, Pryor's nomination remained in limbo.