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Statement Of Senator Charles Schumer
April 1, 2004


US Senator Charles Schumer issued the following statement at the Judiciary Committee's markup of the nomination of William Myers to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Mr. Chairman, I have no choice but to oppose the confirmation of William Myers to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the outset, let me say as clearly as possible, that I am ready and willing to support the appointment of conservatives to this court. While it's gotten more conservative of late, it's still the most liberal court in the country, it's still out of balance, and it still needs some evening out. That's why, unlike many of my Democratic colleagues, I voted for the nomination of Jay Bybee to this court and that's why I'm willing to give more leeway to the President when it comes to 9th Circuit nominations.

But nominating William Myers is like sticking a thumb in the eye of all senators who believe extremists have no place on the federal bench.

As my colleagues know, I have three criteria when it comes to evaluating nominees to the federal bench. Excellence - they should be among the best the bar has to offer; Moderation - they should be neither too far left, nor too far right; and Diversity - I don't believe the bench should be comprised exclusively of white men.

On diversity, this President has, by and large, done a good job of continuing President Clinton's efforts to add women and people of color to the bench. So although Mr. Myers adds nothing on the diversity front, that's not my concern here.

On excellence, this President has, by and large, done a good job of offering bright and talented lawyers to the Senate. Mr. Myers has a real dearth of relevant experience and that gives me some pause with regard to his nomination, but, again, that's not really my concern either.

As with a disturbing number of President Bush's nominees, the problem with Mr. Myers is moderation. Time and again, we find ourselves here dealing with someone whose record screams passionate activist, and doesn't so much as whisper impartial judge.

It's not just that Mr. Myers has spent almost every day of his professional career as a lobbyist and advocate for mining and ranching interests to the detriment of environmental concerns, it's also what he's said in the process.

When it comes to the environment, confirming William Myers would be like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

In one article, Mr. Myers said, "Environmentalists are mountain biking to the courthouse as never before, bent on stopping human activity wherever it may promote health, safety, and welfare."

The cases he was discussing include suits to halt the discriminatory placement of waste treatment facilities, to protect irrigation canals from toxic chemicals, and to stop logging in protected national forests.

Those cases hardly seem to be examples of wild-eyed litigation run amok and Mr. Myers' comments are hardly reflective of the moderation and temperament we look for from judicial nominees.

And it's not as if that remark was an isolated incident.

Mr. Myers has said that the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act have "the unintended consequence of actually harming the environment."

He has argued that it is "fallacious" to believe that "central government can promote environmentalism."

He has compared the government's management of public lands to King George's "tyrannical" rule over the American colonies.

Mr. Myers has written that "the biggest disaster now facing ranchers is a flood of regulations designed to turn the West into little more than a theme park."

He has attacked "professional environmentalists" as being "primarily interested in fundraising and the selling of magazine subscriptions."

When it comes to comments hostile to the environment, Mr. Myers is like the Energizer Bunny - he just keeps going and going and going.

The Buffalo News recently ran an editorial against this nomination, saying in part, "The Bush administration is showing an Oz-like talent for turning over protect-the-environment posts to former lobbyists who once sought to overturn the rules they're now to be charged with keeping."

I could not agree more. This is just another example of the Bush Administration saying one thing and doing another. They say they care about the environment, then they nominate an anti-environmentalist to defend it. With Mr. Myers' nomination, we're not just through the looking glass, we're all the way down the rabbit hole.

I really have no choice but to vote no and urge my colleagues to do the same.

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