Pryor Help Offered?

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This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 28 2003 that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Supporters of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore (search) continue their vigil, despite the fact that the Ten Commandments (search) monument has been removed from sight.

What will happen to the monument now? And what will happen to suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore?

Joining us now is Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor.

Thanks for coming on the program. I know many Democrats have opposed you on the nomination, but the fact that in this instance you have stood up and are standing up for the law, regardless of your personal reviews, I think is laudable, depending upon…I mean, regardless of where either of us stand on the issue.

BILL PRYOR, ALABAMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, thank you, Alan. The fact of the matter is I think that I have a six and a half-year record as attorney general doing just that. It comes with the territory of being the chief law enforcement officer of a state.

I've prosecuted members of my own political party, the opposite political party, and election redistricting disputes. I have on one time come out on the Republican side, on the other side…other times, on the Democratic side. That's just the nature of upholding the law.

COLMES: Right. You told me last night on my radio program that you actually offered to help Justice Moore, give him legal help that he refused. Could you explain what happened?

PRYOR: Well, the chief justice wanted his own legal team to present the arguments in his case in his own way. And out of respect for the chief justice and the separation of powers, I agreed to appoint the legal team that he wanted. And I did offer the assistance of my office but he wanted to do it his way.

COLMES: Do you think there was a better argument that could have gotten him to win his case in Justice Thompson's courtroom?

PRYOR: I don't want to get in the business of saying what is a better argument or not. It would certainly be my perspective that there are very traditional arguments that, in at least some cases involving Ten Commandments displays in courthouses, have been successful. In some other instances they have not been successful.

But I think if you look at this for what it is, the cornerstone of law for western civilization, an important part of our legal heritage, but not a religious symbol and not something where the government is trying to promote God but to recognize the history of our country and the development of our legal system, that's the kind of argument that I think can and should be made.

COLMES: Is there a way now for Justice Moore to fight this case somehow within the system? Because I know you and he feel similarly about it in terms of whether or not you think the monument belongs there. How should he proceed?

PRYOR: Well, that's something that I think is best left to the chief justice.

It's been handled by him from the beginning and by his legal team. They're at the last stage of review, where they're about to petition the Supreme Court of the United States. And out of respect for the chief justice, I'm going to leave it there.

You know, my perspective has been that the Ten Commandments are an appropriate display for a courthouse, as they are in the U.S. Supreme Court building. But in the meantime, while we have a federal court injunction in place, we have to obey that injunction.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: You have been…by the way, Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being with us.

PRYOR: My pleasure, Sean.

HANNITY: You…given us the great honor of this appointment by the president of the United States and like Miguel Estrada (search) and Priscilla Owens (search), your nomination has been held up. And a lot of accusations have been thrown by very partisan, very partisan liberal Democrats like Pat Shuman and Pat Leahy and others, basically suggesting that you would impose your personal and religious views from the bench.

Clearly this case proves that they are wrong. Have any of them called to apologize to you? And would you like them to?

PRYOR: Out of respect for the Senate process, I'd rather not respond to that. I would say that it would probably be pretty hard to get in touch with me, given what I've been going through the last couple of weeks.

HANNITY: But you know…and certainly I'm sure you want your opportunity to be heard here, and this proves your point. And I think this is very crucial because as Chief Justice Rehnquist (search) said we have a crisis in our judiciary and politics…our Constitution doesn't call for 60 percent of senators voting. They talk about advice and consent. I think what they're doing here frankly is unconstitutional.

So you're a part of that, but I can see you really don't want to weigh in on that.

PRYOR: Well, you know, the thing I would say is that it's an honor to be a nominee of this president. I'm honored that the Senate Judiciary Committee gave me a favorable recommendation, and I very much appreciate the full hearing that they gave me earlier this summer.

HANNITY: All right. Well, we can hope now that maybe this will reverse this unfair decision against you.

I want to ask you, where does this all end? I mean, we have the Supreme Court beginning its proceedings, "God save the United States and this honorable court." Congress, the Senate opened with a prayer, "in God we trust" on coinage.

Can the same arguments be made against those things as were made to remove these monuments?

PRYOR: That's a very good question, Sean. It's a very serious question. On the one hand, I think that the court has been clarifying the law and making it simpler in the area of the free exercise of religion. Making it clear, for example, in public schools that schools cannot organize religious activity, but students have a right to pray on their own initiative and that cannot be censored by school officials.

But in the area of the establishment clause, there is some inconsistency, and that's what's led, for example to the ruling of the Ninth Circuit that you can't have the Pledge of Allegiance because it includes the phrase "one nation under God."

HANNITY: So we're likely to see a lot more of this in the future. That's my point. This is just the beginning.

PRYOR: Again, you can find something for everybody to some extent in the establishment clause there.

COLMES: Mr. Attorney General, we thank you very much for coming on with us tonight. Thank you for being here.

PRYOR: Thank you.

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