But history is full of tales of redemption. Perhaps that's why it is fitting that a white Attorney General from the state nominated himself to strike a major blow for a new civil rights movement on Wednesday, June 11, 2003. When Bill Pryor faced hostile questioning about Roe v. Wade from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was expected to do the dance perfected by scores of Republican judicial nominees answering similar questions. Even the adamantine Clarence Thomas resorted to the old shuck and jive when pressed on Roe during his confirmation hearings. Pryor chose a decidedly different strategy.
(umm...unfortunate choice of words there in that second the last sentence. Meant to be funny I suppose. It's not. Anyway.)
Having referred to Roe v. Wade as a constitutional abomination in the past, the nominee surely expected to be hard-pressed by the Bowery Boy Combo of Schumer and Kennedy. When Schumer asked whether Pryor stood by his previous comments about Roe, Pryor did something astonishing. He told the truth. "I do," he said simply. In later questioning, he went even further out on the limb to say, "[Roe] has led to the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children."
Although he assured the committee of his commitment to upholding the current law (as a member of a lower court, he would be bound to do so anyway), Pryor's surprise performance marks a new day in the most important civil rights battle of the past thirty years, the right of unborn children to be recognized as Constitutional persons. Schumer said he appreciated Pryor's candor, perhaps believing the nominee was mortally wounding himself in an attempt to be honest. But that view would be a misreading of the situation. Pryor was not allowing himself to be crucified for the sake of refusing to tell a white lie or to hide the full implications of the truth. Instead, his answer represented the confidence of a man certain he is standing on the right side of history.