Victor Wolski is a self-described libertarian ideologue on the very takings/ property rights issues he would decide if he is confirmed as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC), which has exclusive jurisdiction over most “takings” claims against national environmental and other protections, according to Earthjustice and twelve other national environmental groups that have formally opposed Wolski’s nomination. The Senate will consider Wolski’s nomination tomorrow (Tuesday).
In 1999, Victor Wolski stated that “Every single job I’ve taken since college has been ideologically oriented, trying to further my principles. I am essentially a libertarian. I believe in limited government, individual liberty and property rights.” These jobs include the largest part of the 40-year old Wolski’s brief legal career, which he devoted to bringing sweeping property rights/ takings challenges to environmental protections for the industry-funded Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF).
“The fact that Victor Wolski is a self-proclaimed ideologue on the very issues he would decide as a judge make him uniquely unqualified to decide fairly whether taxpayers must pay corporations to comply with health, safety, environmental and other safeguards.” said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. “Unfortunately, Mr. Wolski’s rigid ideology is apparently the only reason he was nominated, and the only reason why the Senate leadership is pushing him ahead of three others whom President Bush nominated months before to the same court.”
In addition, a recent study has shown that this CFC court is already uniquely overloaded with far more judges than are needed to hear all cases referred to it. CFC judges serve 15-year terms, after which they can become lifetime senior judges — many of whom continue to hear full caseloads. The court, with 16 full-time slots, is now loaded with 13 senior judges in addition to 11 regular judges. As a result, a CFC judge hears just one case for every eight that an average federal district judge considers.
“At the very least, the Senate needs to consider whether the CFC needs more judges — each of whom cost the taxpayers an average of $1 million a year — before voting on Wolski or the three other pending nominees to the court,” Sugameli said. “Senate Republicans reportedly pledged to hold hearings on whether the CFC needs any additional judges, but reneged on the promises and are now pushing ahead with a vote on Wolski without any consideration of whether the Court needs yet another judge — even though three other CFC nominees were nominated months before Wolski. That says to me that the Bush administration has an ulterior motive in rushing Wolski through the process, and I’m sure it isn’t to help protect the environmental rights of Americans.”
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