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Judging the Environment Project

 

A central part of CRC’s mission has been educating the public and policymakers and galvanizing the environmental community around the threat courts pose to environmental safeguards.  Our 1998 Takings Project report exposed and critiqued the special interest-driven campaign to establish the Takings Clause as a barrier to community and environmental protections.  Our 2001 report Hostile Environment: How Activist Judges Threaten Our Air, Water, and Land – jointly released by CRC, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Alliance for Justice – chronicled the remarkable array of new and unjustified hurdles that federal judges imposed over the prior decade to thwart corporate accountability for environmental harms. 

Hostile Environment 336x435Hostile Environment led to the Judging the Environment Project, a comprehensive effort by CRC and Earthjustice to advise and educate the environmental community, the public, the media, and the Senate on the importance of environmental issues in judicial selection.  Our partnership has engaged the environmental community in the judicial nominations debate in an unprecedented manner and has placed environmental concerns at the center of the debate over many controversial judicial nominees. 

The progress of the Judging the Environment Project was documented vividly by our success in blocking the confirmation of William Myers, a former Interior Department official with a long record of hostility to environmental protection, to the important Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Myers’ initial confirmation was blocked in July 2004, and he was pointedly left out of a May 2005 Senate compromise that led to the confirmation of several controversial Bush nominees.  President Bush re-nominated Myers several times before finally deciding in January 2007 to withdraw the nomination.  Myers is the first judicial nominee in history denied Senate confirmation because of hostility to environmental safeguards.  His defeat was a milestone for Judging the Environment, establishing the marker that anti-environmental views, standing alone, are enough to prevent confirmation to a lifetime post on the federal bench.

CRC’s approach to judicial confirmation fights mirrors our work in the Supreme Court – we’ve explained to the Senate that the legal views of conservative nominees cannot be squared with the Constitution’s text and history.   For example, during the momentous debate in 2006 over the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito, CRC wrote a report containing an extensive discussion of Alito’s views on executive power, explaining how dramatically these views departed from constitutional text and the understanding of our nation’s founders.  This discussion became the authoritative discussion of this topic, and CRC was called upon to personally brief several “on the fence” senators who were concerned about the Bush administration’s assertion of sweeping executive power.  All three of these senators – Jeff Bingaman, Tom Carper, and Byron Dorgan – voted against Justice Alito, using his views on executive power as a critical justification.  CRC’s discussion of Alito’s views on executive power has subsequently been paired with a speech by Justice Alito in a college course book.

To read more about CRC's response to the introduction of the 'Nuclear Option', click here.

NOMINATIONS TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
(Click on the name of a nominee to learn more)

COMMUNITY RIGHTS COUNSEL OPPOSED THE FOLLOWING NOMINEES:
(Click on the name of a nominee to learn more)

  • Peter D. Keisler - U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; renominated on January 9, 2007
  • William H. Pryor - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; confirmed through recess appointments on June 9, 2005
  • Lawrence Block - U.S. Court of Federal Claims; confirmed on October 2, 2002
  • Janice Rogers Brown - U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; confirmed on June 8, 2005
  • Thomas B. Griffith - U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; confirmed on June 14, 2005
  • Dennis Shedd - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; confirmed on November 19, 2002
  • D. Brooks Smith - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; confirmed on July 31, 2002
  • Jeffrey Sutton - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; confirmed on April 29, 2003
  • Victor Wolski - U.S. Court of Federal Claims; confirmed on July 9, 2003
  • William James Haynes II - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; withdrawn on January 9, 2007
  • William G. Myers III - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; withdrawn on January 9, 2007
  • Miguel Estrada - U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Estrada withdrew his name from consideration.
  • Carolyn Kuhl - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; declined to accept a re-nomination.
  • Charles Pickering, Sr. - confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit through a recess appointment; declined to accept a re-nomination.

Lawrence Block

  • For a letter signed by CRC along with twenty-two other groups to Senator Patrick Leahy, voicing their concerns over the nomination of Lawrence J. Block to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, click here.

  • For an overview of concerns fact sheet on Lawrence J. Block and the Court of Federal Claims, click here.

Terrence Boyle

  • To read an article by the Center for Investigative Research, that CRC helped research, documenting that Boyle has ruled in a large number of cases where he owned stock in one of the parties, click here.

Janice Rogers Brown

  • For a comprehensive report by Community Rights Counsel and Earthjustice, analyzing Brown's speeches and opinions, click here (PDF).

  • For a letter sent to Senators Hatch and Leahy, expressing important concerns regarding Brown's nomination, click here.

  • For an op-ed written by CRC's Doug Kendall and Tim Dowling, published in The Washington Post, click here.
  • For CRC's analysis of Brown's judicial record, click here.

  • For the speeches given by Brown that are referred to in the above opinion piece, click here (for Federalist Society speech) and here (for Institute for Justice speech). (Both speeches are in PDF).

  • For a group letter to Sens. Hatch and Leahy, signed by Community Rights Counsel with 33 other groups, opposing the nomination of Brown, click here (PDF).

  • For a statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), opposing Brown's nomination to the DC Court of Appeals, click here.

Miguel Estrada

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel and sixteen other environmental groups on the importance of balance on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, click here.

  • For a letter by Earthjustice and Community Rights Counsel to Senators Hatch and Leahy regarding nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, click here.

  • For a critical memorandum on Estrada and the secrecy of the Bush administration, click here.

  • For a letter by Community Rights Counsel and thirteen other environmental groups urging opposition to Estrada, click here.

  • For an in-depth look into the importance of the D.C. Circuit, click here to read an article from The American Prospect.

  • For an op-ed piece by Douglas T. Kendall, CRC's Executive Director, and Philip E. Clapp, President of National Environmental Trust, on Estrada's nomination to the D.C. Circuit and what it could mean for environmental rules, click here.

Thomas B. Griffith

  • For a letter of concern signed by Community Rights Counsel and Earthjustice to Senators Hatch and Leahy regarding Griffith nomination to the DC Circuit, click here. To read the corresponding letter highlighting the importance of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to environmental issues, click here.

  • For the Senate statement of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), regarding the conflicts surrounding Griffith's nomination, click here.

William Haynes II

  • For a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Leahy by CRC detailing the myriad ways nominee Haynes has sought to thwart environmental and public health laws, click here.
  • For a full statement by CRC's Doug Kendall on the Department of Justice's attack on environmental standing, click here.

Peter Keisler

  • For a letter by CRC for the Coalition for a Fair and Independant Judiciary, voicing strong opposition to holding a hearing a record 33 days after Keisler's nomination without the opportunity to review his record, click here.
  • For a letter by all eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to Chairman Specter requesting a postponement of the hearing until all documents, particularly records of his tenure with the Reagan administration's White House office, are produced and reviewed, click here.

Carolyn Kuhl

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel along with seven other environmental groups to Senators, expressing our concerns of Kuhl being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, click here.

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel along with eleven other environmental groups, to Senators in opposition to the lifetime appointment of Kuhl to the 9th Circuit, click here.

William Myers

  • For a comprehensive analysis of Myers' disturbing environmental record by Community Rights Counsel, click here (PDF). For an HTML version, click here.

  • For a joint letter to Senators Specter and Leahy from CRC, Earthjustice, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on the re-nomination of Myers, click here (PDF).

  • For comprehensive information on Myers' involvement in the Frank Robbins grazing settlement, as detailed in a recent IG report, click here.

  • For a joint news release by CRC, Earthjustice, and People For the American Way on the latest report on Myers' being unfit for the 9th Circuit, click here. To read the actual report, click here (PDF).

  • For a 64-group opposition letter sent to Senators Hatch and Leahy, expressing strong opposition to the lifetime appointment of Myers, click here.

  • For a group letter signed by Community Rights Counsel along with twenty-two other groups, opposing any hearing on Myers' nomination to a lifetime position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit until all issues in ethics investigations have been resolved, click here.

  • To read a Los Angeles Times article on Myers and the Interior Department land giveaway, click here.

  • Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times ran stories on Myers' hearing on February 6, 2004.

  • For a statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on environmental and other concerns with Myers' nomination, click here.

  • For a list of Senator's statements from the March 17, 2005 Myers mark-up and hearing, click here.

  • Various Senators voiced statements casting their vote against the confirmation of Myers. Please click below to read a few of these statements:
    Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
    Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Charles Pickering, Sr.

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel with seventeen other groups, stating our opposition to the re-nomination of Pickering, click here (PDF).

William H. Pryor

  • For a Community Rights Counsel report on Pryor and his record of hostility toward federal environmental protections, click here (PDF).

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel along with twelve other environmental groups to Senators Hatch and Leahy, expressing serious concerns about Pryor being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, click here.

  • For an opposition letter signed by Community Rights Counsel as well as thirty-one other environmental groups, voicing concerns to Senators Hatch and Leahy about Pryor, click here.

Dennis Shedd

  • For a joint letter by Community Rights Counsel and Earthjustice to Senator Patrick Leahy regarding the nomination of Dennis Shedd to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, click here.

D. Brooks Smith

CRC actively worked and succeeded in raising concerns about the nomination of D. Brooks Smith to a lifetime appointment on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Community Rights Counsel has been instrumental in raising both substantive and ethical concerns regarding his nomination, bringing those concerns to the attention of Senators, the media, and other progressive organizations. To read the press statement of Douglas T. Kendall, CRC's Executive Director, on Bush's appointment of judges, click here.

  1. Judge Smith's Rulings and Legal Philosophy
  2. Judge Smith's Ethics

Many organizations have banded together in opposing D. Brooks Smith's nomination to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. So fierce was the opposition to Smith that the City of Philadelphia passed a resolution urging the United States Senate to reject Smith's nomination to the Third Circuit -- click here to read that resolution.

Jeffrey Sutton

  • For an op-ed illustrating CRC's concerns with Jeffrey Sutton, who has been nominated for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which covers Kentucky,  Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, click here.  

  • For a letter signed by Community Rights Counsel and eight other environmental groups to Senators Hatch and Leahy, expressing serious concerns about the nomination of Sutton, click here.

  • For a more recent letter by Community Rights Counsel and ten other environmental groups to Senators Hatch and Leahy, urging them and the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the lifetime nomination of Sutton, click here.

  • For a letter sent to the full Senate, signed by Community Rights Counsel and ten other environmental groups, opposing the nomination of Sutton, click here (in PDF format).

  • To read a critical joint memorandum from CRC and Earthjustice on Sutton, click here.

  • To read the Executive Summary of the above memo, click here.

Victor Wolski

  • For a letter signed by CRC along with twelve other groups opposing the nomination of Victor J. Wolski to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, click here.

  • For a letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Alliancw for Justice, and other civil rights groups, expressing serious concerns regarding Wolski's nomination, click here (PDF).

  • For an editorial from The Washington Post on Steven Schooner's asserting that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is "an unnecessary waste of judicial resources," click here.

  • For a statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) in opposition to Wolski, click here (PDF).
  • For CRC's news release in response to Wolski's confirmation, click here.

For basic, background information, see the links below. 


United States Department of Justice
The Office of Legal Policy within the U.S. DOJ site provides you with a complete list of judicial nominees, including their biographies, and also a complete list of judicial vacancies and an up-to-date list of confirmed nominees.

United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Click on "Hearings" to see which nominees the committee will be hearing week-by-week.  

Earthjustice
With CRC, Earthjustice is conducting research to advise the environmental community and to educate the public on the importance of lifetime federal judicial nominees.

People for the American Way
Working to engage more Americans in civic and political action, and to defend and strengthen vital institutions.

Independent Judiciary
A project of Alliance for Justice that monitors and investigates judicial nominations at all levels of the federal bench and encourages public participation in the confirmation process.

 

 

 

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