Leahy still opposed to court nominee

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(Host) President Bush spent some political capital two weeks ago when he re-nominated federal judges the Senate rejected in his last term. But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy once again refuses to confirm William Myers for a lifetime appointment to the ninth circuit court of appeals.

Jill Morrison reports from our Capitol Hill Bureau.

(Morrison) Leahy opposes the confirmation of attorney and lobbyist William Meyers calling him the most anti-environmental nominee he’s seen 30 years.

Senator Leahy:

(Leahy) “We’ve got 172 environmental, native American, labor, civil rights, disability rights and other organizations formally opposing this nomination; the National Congress of American Indians – a coalition of more that 250 tribal governments – unanimously approved a resolution opposing this nomination; the National Wildlife federation, which has never opposed a judicial nomination. I examined and reexamined Mr. Meyers record and I asked myself if I could support this nomination. I did not come back with a positive answer.”

(Morrison) As the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy mentioned briefs on environmental policy written by Meyers. Meyers makes claims that laws like the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act do more harm than good.

The Vermont Senator also attacked Meyers on his support of mining interest over the protection of tribal lands. Meyers tried to defend himself against Leahy’s questioning:

(Leahy) “You think the Bush administration should continue to oppose the Reno-Sparks Indian colony and support the mining company?”
(Meyers) “The court dismissed that action without prejudice based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. My involvement in that was to review the question specific to whether a state or local government could exercise regulatory control over federal land and to what extent they could. In the amicus brief we filed, we said that state and local governments can enact environmental regulations specific to mining as long as those regulations are reasonable, because of the primacy of the federal government on federal land issues. That was, I think, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in the California Coastal Commission vs. Granite Rock case.”

(Morrison) But while Leahy and othe Democrats asked Meyers the tough questions, it was clear their anger was really aimed at President Bush for being forced to face seven of the same nominees the Democrats rejected in the Senate’s last term. Leahy will face three more of the rejected judicial nominees on Thursday.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Jill Morrison on Capitol Hill.

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