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Pryor Notice

The Senate wrestling match over President Bush's judicial nominations has reached the chair-throwing stage.

The latest fight involves Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, an unabashed conservative who happens to be Roman Catholic, nominated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He squeaked by in committee last week on a 10-to-9 party-line vote. Democrats now threaten a third filibuster in the full Senate over a nominee.

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Frustrated supporters have responded with an ad campaign in mostly Catholic New England accusing opponents of anti-Catholic bigotry.

The ads - clearly aimed at three moderate, pro-choice GOP senators from Maine and Rhode Island - are a smear. Four of the Democrats who voted against Mr. Pryor are themselves Catholics. The only ones raising his religion are his supporters.

Still, the Senate should avoid strict abortion litmus tests that can be religiously divisive and wrongly exclude qualified, sincere people from serving.