|Bill Pryor, with and without a robe|
I don't know the answer to that question, and I admit that even raising it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. (Perhaps that's because I am tooting my own horn.) But a number of intelligent people I like and admire -- a doctor, a retired lawyer, my wife -- have told me in recent days they thought Pryor's fading prospects were directly related to our reports about his nudie photos that appeared at badpuppy.com in the 1990s. The hypocrisy, my friends and loved ones said, of an ardently anti-gay rights judge appearing at a gay-porn Web site (in photos taken during his college days in the 1980s), would be too much for the Trump administration to stomach.
So why did the nod go to Neil Gorsuch, from Colorado and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and not Pryor, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit (based in Atlanta), holds a duty station at the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham, and lives in the suburb of Vestavia Hills (at 2474 Tyler Road, to be precise)?
Before we address that question, let's set this straight: I like the idea of having cost Bill Pryor a SCOTUS seat -- I really, really like that idea. Check that -- I love the idea, I relish it. Why? Bill Pryor might be the single most over-rated individual in U.S. public life. He also might be the most evil, although Donald Trump threatens to swipe that "honor" and run away with it. George W. Bush appointed Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit because, it's been widely reported, Karl Rove wanted to reward Pryor for launching (while Alabama attorney general) a bogus investigation that led to two innocent men -- former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy -- winding up in federal prison.
It is widely known in the Alabama legal community that Pryor was a mediocre lawyer, at best, and he's done nothing to distinguish himself as a judge -- unless you consider voicing antipathy toward gay rights to be a distinguishing characteristic. That's ironic, not only because of Pryor's gay-porn photos, but also because of our recent report that Alabama law enforcement conducted surveillance on Pryor's residence in the 1990s (prompted by the badpuppy.com photos and the likelihood of blackmail) that caught U.S. Senator and Trump attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions frequently coming and going at curiously late hours.
Sessions has championed Pryor's cause at seemingly every opportunity, and it now appears that might have its genesis in something other than Pryor's professional qualifications, which are thinner than thin.
Besides that, Bill Pryor simply is an awful human being. He helped send two innocent people to prison -- one of them, Siegelman, still is there -- and we've heard no reports that Pryor has any problems sleeping at night. It takes a special kind of warped individual to do that. Also, it has been reported at several media outlets (including this one) that Pryor's gay-porn past actually has helped his career. It has, in fact, made him vulnerable to blackmail, and GOP corporate interests have used that to make sure Pryor nudges certain cases to turn out in certain ways.
Does it sound like I have a personal animus toward Bill Pryor? If so, that's good -- because I do. For one, I know Don Siegelman, and I've written more about his case than anyone on the planet, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to an imperfect, but good, man. I also know Richard Scrushy, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to him. Whatever his faults may be, Scrushy did a whole lot to create jobs and build prestige for Birmingham. Pryor has done nothing in Birmingham, except feather his own filthy nest.
Two, I'm convinced Pryor has engineered multiple cheat jobs against my wife and me in federal court. We've seen signs that he is doing it now and might plan to do it in the future. Pryor apparently is arrogant enough to think he can get away with such criminality. But he might want to think twice about that. Karma has a way of biting right through your robes and leaving serious scars on your ass.
How badly did Pryor slide in the race to fill the late Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court? This is from a report at The New York Times:
There had been some speculation that Mr. Trump would choose someone with a less elite background for the court. The other finalist for the post, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and helped pay for his education by driving a taxi.
The White House stoked suspense over Mr. Trump’s court choice in the hours before announcing it. A senior Trump administration official said both Judge Gorsuch and Judge Hardiman were summoned to Washington for the nomination ceremony. But only Judge Gorsuch appeared at the White House gathering shortly after 8 p.m.
Translation: Pryor was expected, until recently, to be the life of the party, but he wound up not even being invited. Ouch!
The conventional wisdom holds that Pryor's star fell because Team Trump was concerned his controversial statements about abortion rights, gay rights, privacy, and other hot-button cultural issues would make it difficult to get him confirmed. That might be the case, but such a scenario suggests reasonable, rational, and deliberate thought -- and we've seen no sign that exists in the Trump White House.
So, did Legal Schnauzer cause Pryor's downfall? (Hah! Sorry, couldn't contain myself.) Well, my friends and loved ones say they've seen signs that our reports about Pryor's BadPuppy days have made their way into conservative circles. And that, they say, spelled doom for Pryor, especially in the homophobic environment of the modern GOP.
We've seen some evidence to support that. Consider a discussion today at The Unz Review, a Webzine started by Ron Unz, a businessman, activist, and Republican politician. This is the introduction to a forum discussion yesterday on Trump's impending SCOTUS announcement:
Trump's Supreme Court Nominee
What do you think?
Contenders are said to include Neil Gorsuch, Thomas M. Hardiman, and William H. Pryor. Jr.
All three are healthy-looking white guys between their late 40s and middle 50s, so expect a lot of vapors over the prospect of one of them being on the court until about the middle of the 21st Century.
This is from a commenter in the thread who goes by the handle "snorlax":
Democrats were hoping for Pryor because there’s been a ready-made nomination-derailing scandal around for years (he posed nude for a gay porno mag as a college student in the 80′s). It’s weird that he still appears on GOP shortlists, but I guess we can chalk that up to being the Stupid Party.
Even ignoring that, he’s at 54 the oldest of the 3 finalists, he’s not the brightest bulb by SC standards (especially as a replacement for the brilliant Scalia), and he’s controversial enough that the RINOs might not agree to go nuclear for him. Bad choice.
I certainly hope "snorlax" is right, especially since he was kind enough to include a link to my blog. Plus, his line about "the brilliant Scalia" made me laugh out loud. Conservatives fall for horse feces so easily.
Here's an interesting thought: Pryor could get back in the running for a future vacancy, but what if this proves to be Trump's one and only nomination to the Supreme Court? What if Trump is impeached or indicted (or both) before he gets a chance to make a second nomination? What if Bill Pryor had one chance to snatch his dream job, and Legal Schnauzer caused it to blow up in his face?
Gee, wouldn't that be a shame?
If anyone wants to give me credit for keeping Bill Pryor off the Supreme Court, I am more than happy to accept it. I will consider it a true service to our country, perhaps saving us from the latest in a string of phony religious whack jobs who have enriched and empowered themselves while chipping away at the foundations of our democracy.
Update: Early this morning "snorlax" added this in a separate comment:
As for Pryor, I heard about it (when he started getting GOP shortlist buzz, before Trump entered the race in 2015) from a friend who’s very clued in to the top echelons of the national Democratic Party (she doesn’t know I’m a Deplorable).
According to her the photo is 100% legit, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with the amount of material they have on him.
Considering that Snopes is a very partisan Democrat outfit, I’d be very wary of a (far from definitive) “debunking” that superficially appears to benefit the GOP; smells an awful lot like a trap, especially given it really is a trap if what I was told is true. (Note: Snopes did not "debunk" the Pryor story; it labeled it "unproven," using some seriously flawed analysis.)
I think the model and Pryor look a lot more similar than different. Your nose gets bigger as you age. The ears, hair and stubble pattern look the same, and more importantly note how they’re both slightly cross-eyed.
If you look at the oldest clear picture of Pryor I could find, he has a less prominent nose, a weaker jaw and is even more obviously cross-eyed than in current photos.
The anecdotal evidence is pretty strong too: The model is named “Bill Pryor,” is the same age, and bears a very strong resemblance (many people’s appearances change a lot more from their late teens/early 20′s to their 50′s). And the site that originally posted the photo (in 1997, when he was running for Alabama AG) took it down after only one day.
Anyway, probably moot point now. He’ll be on the old side next time there’s a vacancy.