home imipono about
facebook flickr youtube twitter

7th Candidate For Judgeship Is Blocked By Democrats

Published: July 21, 2004

go to original


Senate Democrats on Tuesday used a filibuster threat to block yet another of President Bush's judicial candidates, asserting that William G. Myers III, a longtime lobbyist for large ranchers and mining interests, was unsuited to be a federal judge.

Mr. Myers, who was nominated for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers nine Western states and has a docket rich in cases involving the environment and land use, became the seventh of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees to be blocked by a Democratic filibuster. The Republicans, who needed 60 votes to defeat the threatened filibuster, which is an extended debate, were only able to muster 53.

Senate Democrats criticized Mr. Myers for speeches over the years in which he often used the strong language of large ranchers and other Western landowners who maintain that they suffer oppression at the hands of federal environmental regulators. Mr. Myers once said, for example, that environmental regulations were akin to King George's tyranny over the American colonies.

Senate Republicans said Mr. Myers, who is the solicitor at the Interior Department, the department's senior lawyer, was a fine lawyer and deserved a chance to have the Senate vote on his nomination.

The floor vote may have turned on Mr. Myers's suitability to be a fair federal judge, but the event was also shot through with partisan politics. From the moment he was nominated, it was clear he would be blocked by Democrats because of his often harshly stated views about environmentalists' efforts.

Democrats said the White House pressed forward only as a political gesture to Mr. Bush's constituents in the West who subscribe to the doctrine sometimes called the sagebrush rebellion, the idea that the federal government tramples on private property rights.

Before joining the Interior Department, Mr. Myers was at the forefront of the movement, serving as a lobbyist for the mining industry and as executive director of the Public Lands Council, an arm of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said that if Mr. Myers were confirmed to the bench, he ''would be an anti-environmental activist on the bench.''

''He has a consistent record,'' Mr. Leahy said, ''of using whatever position and authority he has had to fight for corporate interests at the expense of the environment and at the expense of the interests of the American people in environmental protections.''

Republicans asserted that the Democrats had been eager to sink the nomination to impress their supporters in the environmental lobby.

The Myers nomination was the starkest example yet during the Bush administration of the debate over whether someone who has spent a career vigorously advocating a particular ideological viewpoint is an appropriate candidate to be a federal judge.

In his role at the Interior Department, Mr. Myers once drafted a ruling that upheld a regulatory change allowing a foreign-owned gold mine to be established on Indian land in California. A federal judge later ruled that Mr. Myers's opinion misconstrued the ''clear mandate'' of a federal law that, the judge said, was aimed at preventing degradation of land.

Senator Craig Thomas, Republican of Wyoming, suggested that Mr. Myers would indeed bring his personal views to the bench when he said that he would provide needed balance to the Ninth Circuit, which has a reputation among conservatives as too prone to the side of environmental groups.

back to documents
©2008 Statehood Hawaii