Pryor faces a challenge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

MONTGOMERY &045; President Bush has done the expected … he has nominated Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor for a seat on the United States’ 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now the fun begins.

Predictably, the Pryor appointment touched off an instant storm of protest on the national scene.

Almost every liberal group in the nation has already sounded off in opposition to the Pryor nomination.

He is a Catholic who is outspoken in his opposition to abortion, and his stand in support of Chief Justice Roy Moore in the Ten Commandments dispute has enraged other groups.

A spokesman for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Pryor is the kind of nominee that &uot;reveals the Bush administration’s arrogance.&uot;

Despite the long and testy fight that surely awaits Pryor nomination, rumors are already flying as to who Gov. Bob Riley might appoint attorney general in the event Pryor is confirmed as a judge.

There is a laundry list of men and women who would jump at the opportunity to become the state’s top law enforcement official.

The hopefuls include former Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts, Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone; Riley’s legal adviser Troy King; Toby Roth, the governor’s chief of staff; and U.S. Atty. Alice Martin, who presently is spearheading the probe of Richard Scrushy.

Butts is a Democrat who late in the 2002 gubernatorial campaign showed up as a member of Riley’s legal team. Whether his appointment would sit well with old guard Republicans is questionable.

His appointment would violate what is dubbed the &uot;Big Jim Folsom Rule.&uot; Folsom once said that &uot;you can’t join the church on Sunday morning and expect to be elected chairman of the Board of Deacons that night.&uot;

Butts has not even switched to the Republican Party as yet.

After you have won a political fight, it is oftentimes best to say no more about it … don’t crow over your victory and don’t take shots at those who opposed you. Be magnanimous in victory.

John Giles, the head man for the Alabama Christian Coalition, may have violated this rule.

After his forces successfully blocked an attempt to bring up a gambling bill in the House, Giles was moved to write a letter to the House members who had cast pro-gambling votes, urging that in the future they vote to &uot;defend family values.&uot;

One House member … Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville … a minister, was most offended by the letter.

&uot;They want to make everybody conform to what they believe religion is all about,&uot; he said.

Giles sought to recover, insisting his letter was not intended to question anyone’s faith, merely their vote.

It should have come as no surprise.

A survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has concluded that Alabama is the worst state in the nation for businesses to face liability lawsuits.

The survey … which put Alabama in the top five on the &uot;worst list&uot; confirms an earlier expression used to describe this state: &uot;Tort Hell.&uot;

The organization did the survey in an effort to prod states to pass laws limiting damage awards.

Interestingly, the old expression used in the past … &uot;thank God for Mississippi&uot; … came into play in this survey as well. That state was named the worst place for businesses to be sued, followed by West Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana.

I remember it distinctly because I was there. During the brief administration of Gov. Albert Brewer, he determined that picking a person to serve as State Superintendent of Education was too important to be made at the ballot box.

He proposed a constitutional amendment which provided for the election of state school board members (previously they had been appointed by the governor) and these members would then be empowered to hire a State School Supterintendent.

The voters overwhelming approved the plan. It marked the first time in decades that a statewide elected office was abolished.

Now comes legislation to undo what Brewer and the voters did in the late 1960s.

Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, says she plans to offer a constitutional amendment which would call for the election of the state superintendent in a statewide election