Latest Judicial Nominee Takes Aim at Government's Ability to Protect Rights of All Americans and our Natural Resources

New Report Details Case Against Confirmation of Bush Pick For U.S. Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit

Mining, coal and cattle industry lobbyist William G. Myers III is President Bush’s latest nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Myers has amassed an incredible record of promoting environmental degradation and harm to the interests of Native Americans, both from his position as an industry lobbyist and from a short stint as solicitor for the Bush Administration Department of the Interior.

“William Myers has embraced a dangerous neo-federalist ideology,” Neas said. “Myers has shown his true colors through his decisions as Interior Department solicitor and his work as a private sector lobbyist and attorney,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “For the sake of the environment, for American Indians, and for the future of federal safeguards of the rights of ordinary Americans, the nomination of William Myers should be rejected.” Neas released a report outlining the argument for rejecting Myers’ nomination.

In several briefs filed while Myers was in the private sector, he espoused a dangerous legal philosophy that would sharply narrow the power of Congress to protect the rights of Americans and elevate private property rights. Embracing a radical “federalist” argument, Myers argued that the government had “no constitutional basis” for involvement in, for instance, wetlands management under the Clean Water Act. Such a narrow interpretation of Congress’ power could be employed to roll back scores of protections on everything from discrimination to health regulations to clean drinking water. He has also praised Robert Bork, whose Supreme Court nomination was rejected by a bipartisan majority of the Senate because he was out of the mainstream of American jurisprudence.

“William Myers treated his time at the Interior Department as another influence-peddling assignment for his industry clients. In two short years with the government, he overturned decisions and erased regulations, giving the mining and grazing industries free rein over our precious natural resources,” Neas said. “This unwillingness to put private corporate interests aside when he assumed the very different role as Interior solicitor, coupled with his embrace of a dangerous neo-federalist legal philosophy, should lead to the rejection of his nomination.”

The People For the American Way report details a number of specific actions taken by Myers to undermine federal environmental protection, conservation, and protection of Native American lands. In perhaps the most egregious example, Myers painfully twisted the meaning of a landmark piece of land management legislation to pave the way for a 1,600 acre open-pit gold mine that would leave 30-storey waste-rock piles in its wake. In Myers’ interpretation, the word “or” in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was determined to actually mean “and.” A federal judge recently repudiated Myers’ interpretation.

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