Donald Trump's possible nominee for the much-contested Supreme Court position has supported transgender rights, raising fears the President-elect is rowing back on his promise to choose a conservative.
Judge William Pryor backed a revolutionary opinion in 2011 that anti-transgender discrimination qualifies as sex discrimination and so was forbidden under the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.
Although he did not write the ruling, he supported it wholeheartedly suggesting he would also back the pro-transgender side in the debate over the use of public bathrooms.
Pryor also backed the suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore for refusing to remove his monument to the Ten Commandments. Moore was barred from office after he "willfully and publicly" defied an order from a federal judge to take the display down.
Pryor initially backed Moore's right to have the monument but after the nine-member federal court issued its unanimous ruling against Moore, Pryor said that ruling had to be obeyed.
"At the end of the day, when the courts resolve those controversies, we respect their decision," he said. "That does not mean that we always agree with their decision."
The Alabama attorney is widely thought to be a likely candidate for Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Scalia, who died in February 2016 leaving the 9th and deciding place in the finely balanced Supreme Court empty.
Trump's promise to pack the Court with arch conservatives is hailed as a key reason he won mass support among Christians with exit polls suggesting he was supported by 82 per cent of self-described evangelicals.
The revelation of Pryor's past support for trans-rights prompted an alert from the conservative Christian grouping, the Personhood Alliance, to all its member organisations to raise the alarm.
"Not only did Judge Pryor personally prosecute Alabama Judge Roy Moore over his display of the Ten Commandments as Attorney Genera of Alabama" said Daniel Becker, founder and President of Personhood Alliance, "but once he became a federal appeals judge, he issued rulings extending special rights to transgender people while refusing to recognize the religious liberty rights of Christians."
Trump said he would name his nominee for the Supreme Court within two weeks of his inauguration on Friday, prompting a sense of urgency among conservative evangelicals.
"Judge Pryor is no Scalia, and is manifestly unfit to succeed him," said Gualberto Garcia Jones, National Policy Director of Personhood Alliance.
"With his track record, we cannot risk having him on the court as we await the Supreme Court to deliberate on the cases considering the rights of children to be protected in their school bathrooms."