Today the U.S. Senate blocked the confirmation of President Bush’s most anti-environmental judicial nominee to date, attorney William G. Myers III, who had been nominated to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The effort to cut off debate and force a vote on this controversial and divisive nomination, which requires 60 votes, failed by a vote of 44 to 53.
See How Senators Voted
Myers is the first nominee opposed by Senators primarily on environmental grounds, and the first to be formally opposed by Native American groups. As an activist lawyer and lobbyist for the mining and beef industries, and later as the top lawyer at the Interior Department, Myers launched sweeping attacks against fundamental environmental protections such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
“As his actions as Interior Solicitor demonstrate, Mr. Myers sees nothing wrong with using public office to advance his personal agenda, which happens to match that of the mining and beef industries who employed him for most of his career,” said Buck Parker, Executive Director of Earthjustice. “Fortunately, a sufficient number of Senators saw through the Bush administration’s attempt to turn an anti-environmental activist into a lifetime federal judge.”
As a Ninth Circuit judge, Myers would have the power to turn his pro-industry ideology into legal precedents governing nine Western states that contain nearly three-quarters of our public lands. From his seat on the bench, Myers would effectively have been able to rewrite the laws protecting these states, and undermine these laws’ effectiveness across the rest of the country.
“The only thing that distinguishes William Myers’ record is the very thing that should disqualify him from serving on this court: his unjustified attacks on safeguards for the environment,” said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. “With more than 180 groups from across the political spectrum opposed to Myers’ nomination, it is unconscionable that the Senate’s Republican leadership would try to shoehorn such a controversial nominee into one of our most important courts.”
The Senate has already confirmed more than 200 of the Bush administration’s lifetime nominees to our federal courts, most of whom were not opposed by environmental or other groups. William Myers is a prime example of the handful of extremist nominees that have failed to sail through the Senate, due to their records of judicial activism, personal agendas, and far-from-the-mainstream viewpoints on the law.
“Earthjustice applauds the forty-four Senators who successfully opposed the effort today to divide the American people and force a vote on this controversial nominee to the federal bench,” added Parker. “Their constituents who care about clean water, clean air, public health, and public lands should be aware of the importance of this vote.”