In another end-run around serious objections raised by senators and environmental and other citizen groups, President Bush today used the cover of an extremely brief Senate recess to appoint Alabama Attorney General William Pryor for one year to a seat on the vital US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which decides the fate of environmental and other safeguards in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. During the Senate’s winter recess, President Bush used a recess appointment to install extreme anti-environmental ideologue Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. on another federal appeals court.
“This is another slap in the face of the Constitutional process of judicial selection,” said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. “President Bush is using a five day Senate recess as a fig leaf to ride roughshod over the objections of senators, environmental groups, and many other concerned citizens.”
Pryor’s nomination repeatedly failed to gain confirmation from the Senate, when numerous Senate votes fell well short of the number needed to end debate. In response to accusations that he and other senators were stalling the judicial confirmation process, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and others cited Pryor’s extreme environmental record as a reason to oppose Pryor’s lifetime nomination.
“Pryor has taken extreme stances against the role of government in protecting the environment, even standing alone among the 50 state attorneys general in challenging the constitutionality of basic public health and wildlife safeguards,” Sugameli added. “Appointing a judge like this to a federal appeals court shows that President Bush has no respect for the rights of American citizens to challenge polluters and other lawbreakers.”
William Pryor’s lifetime nomination prompted record environmental opposition last summer, when a July 30, 2003 letter to the Senate opposing Pryor’s nomination was signed by 16 national environmental and planning groups and 44 regional, state, and local grassroots environmental organizations. Both records have recently been eclipsed by unprecedented levels of environmental opposition to the pending nomination of former mining and grazing lobbyist William Gerry Myers III.
Sugameli said, “President Bush is undermining the judicial selection process. When senators fail to act as his rubber stamp, he cuts them out of the process entirely.”