Friday, April 02, 2004

Showdown Over Another Bush Judicial Appointee

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is easily the most hated in the nation, at least by the right-wing, most recently for finding merit in Michael A. Newdow's contention that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unacceptable "state-creep" into religion. (Previous posting on Newdow here.)

Now President Bush's nominee to take a seat on the Ninth Circuit, William G. Myers III, is shaping up to be another one of those showdowns. Yesterday, in a straight party-line vote, the 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report the Myers nomination to the full Senate, while all 9 Democrats voted "nay." The only times when the Democrats have held together as a bloc in the Judiciary Committee eventually led to defeat of the nominee before the full Senate ... death by filibuster ... and to general gnashing of teeth over on the Right. We seem headed there again.

Footnote, for all those Republicans out there who like to believe that Democrats are out to frustrate ALL Bush's picks for judgeships ... during the last three years, over 170 Bush judges have been approved by the Senate. Only six have been defeated. Myers, we fervently hope, will be Number Seven.

Myers, an Idaho lawyer best known for representing mining and cattle interests, is opposed by environmental groups as well as by tribal, civil rights, labor, and women's groups. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Myers' record as a private attorney, his actions as Interior Department solicitor and his public speeches attacking the nation's environmental laws showed that he would be "an anti-environmental activist on the bench." (Los Angeles Times report on the vote yesterday, here.)

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

Not one of the 15 members of the American Bar Assn.'s judicial screening committee rated Myers "well qualified," while more than one-third judged him "not qualified."

"Nominating Myers is like sticking a thumb in the eye of all senators who believe extremists have no place on the federal bench," Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Time to write your senators about this particular nomination. You want more evidence of his extremism? People for the American Way has a pretty good summary of his career, as does Mother Jones. Click on the highlighted words.

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