Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Judge Bill Pryor has been cleared of wrongdoing in the nomination of a clerk accused of sending racist texts

Judge Bill Pryor has been cleared of wrongdoing in the nomination of a clerk accused of sending racist texts

Bill Pryor, the president of the federal appeals court in Atlanta, has been cleared of allegedly wrongdoing in his hiring of a law clerk accused of sending racist and xenophobic texts.

After seven members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia, asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to investigate the matter, the court referred the complaint to the federal appeals court in New York on Thursday. The judge reaffirmed a request made by Debra Ann Livingston, the chairman of the administration.

Crystal Clanton, a law clerk at George Mason University, has graduated. She will work this year as a law clerk for Corey Maze in Alabama, then for Pryor in 2023. Maze was also named in the lawmakers' complaint.

Both Pryor and Maze have refused to comment on the court's decision.

According to reports, Clanton, while working as national field director for a conservative student group, sent a text message that read: I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like (expletive) them all. She also allegedly sent text messages demeaning Muslims.

Clanton or the two judges, Pryor and Maze were identified in Livingston's judgment and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision. But their identities were disclosed in letters written by Pryor and Clarence Thomas to the court on Clanton's behalf.

Livingston cited one of the Turning Point USA's executives who claimed Clanton treated everyone with kindness, respect, and fairness. This person said the media reports are not accurate, Livingston said.

According to Livingston, the executive of Turning Point had determined that the source of the allegations against (Clanton) was a group of former employees. One of these employees was fired after the organization learned that this person had created fake text messages to be used against co-workers, to make it appear that those co-workers had engaged in misconduct when they did not.

When they interviewed and hired Peggy, Pryor and Maze realised the allegations against Clanton, putting her on the wrong track and discovering that she was well-qualified to serve as a clerk.

There is no record to dispute any of this, she said.

Livingston said the undisputed record shows that Pryor and Maze respected all the diligence that a competent judge would undertake.

The complaint against me alleges, without any evidence, that I either failed to investigate this scurrilous accusation or that I knowingly hired someone who had engaged in racist behavior. It saddens me that any member of Congress would expose such an unfounded accusation against a federal judge or smear the reputation of a innocent law student.

Thomas told Clanton in his letter that he and his wife took him into custody following her departure from Turning Point, North Carolina. She lived in their home for over a year, according to the justice.

I know Crystal Clanton, and I know bigotry, Thomas wrote. Bigotry is antithetical to her nature and character.

Thomas, who said he recommends to Pryor that he hire Clanton as a law clerk, added: We have reached a sorry state of affairs when a young adult can be indelibly marked with today's "scarlet letter" of defamation.

Thomas told him in his letter that Clanton was a "victim of a malicious attempt to portray her as a racist." Thomas also said that Turning Point USA had conducted an internal investigation and found that a rogue employee had compromised the accounts of several co-workers.

According to Thomas, Turning Point's new employee has been fired.

Clanton never spoke out against the allegations because she is bound by a non-disclosure agreement with her former employer, according to Pryor. Upon learning this, he reached out to Charlie Kirk, the founder and executive director of Turning Point, and asked him to explain what had happened.

In his appeal letter to the court, Pryor has quoted a passage from a letter Kirk had sent to him as a response.

According to Kirk, the media has denied that Crystal said and did things that were simply untrue. I have first-hand knowledge of the reports and I can assure that the media has made serious errors and omissions.

Kirk wrote to the employee who was fired had "created fake text messages to be used against other employees.

The seven members of Congress, including House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, reportedly said that Pryor and Maze had violated the code of judicial conduct by hiring a law clerk with a history of nakedly racist and hateful conduct.

The lawmakers wrote that taking on Clanton as a law clerk "threatens to undermine the public's confidence in the judiciary." It raises the question whether Pryor and Maze may be impartial in cases when race, religion or national origin plays a role."

Pryor expresses his displeasure in his response: Reckless charges are both outrageous and meritless. The complaint does not provide credible evidence to suggest that I violated the Code, and my record of public service demonstrates that I abhor invidious discrimination.

___

(c)2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at the store.

Distributed by a Distributed Business

You may also like: