This afternoon, the U.S. Senate will consider President Bush’s nomination of my friend Bill Myers to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. To say the least, the Ninth Circuit is not a centrist court. Rather, it is widely known as the most liberal circuit court in the land.
The Ninth Circuit, to give but one example, is the court that struck down the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. It is also the circuit court most frequently reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This past term, for example, the Supreme Court reviewed 25 rulings by the Ninth Circuit, and reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in 19 of those cases. Even more disturbing, however, is the fact that in most of those 19 cases, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit by a unanimous vote.
Given the Ninth Circuit’s extremely bizarre record, it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of its judges, 17 out of 26, were appointed by Democratic presidents. In light of this obvious imbalance, one would think that U.S. senators from across the political spectrum might welcome the nomination of Bill Myers, a mainstream conservative from Idaho, to serve on that court. Unfortunately, however, many of the Democratic senators are now threatening to filibuster this fine nominee, who would assure a restoration of badly needed balance to the Ninth Circuit.
In an effort to deflect honestly concerned attention from the raw fact that the Ninth Circuit is out of the mainstream, some–utilizing that old psychological trick of transference–have attempted to unfairly tar Bill Myers as outside of the mainstream. Even a brief review of Myers’s record, however, reveals that this charge is pure babble and a smokescreen created by those seeking to preserve the Ninth Circuit as a temple of liberalism.
Bill Myers enjoys strong bipartisan support in his home state. He is not only supported by every member of Idaho’s congressional delegation; his nomination is also backed by Cecil Andrus, the former Democratic governor of Idaho, who also served as President Jimmy Carter’s Interior secretary. Myers has received enthusiastic support from throughout the western United States. He has earned the endorsements of the current governors of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada, and he is also supported by Mike Sullivan, the former Democratic governor of Wyoming and U.S. ambassador to Ireland under the Clinton administration. A bipartisan group of 15 state attorneys general have endorsed his nomination, including Democratic Attorneys General Ken Salazar of Colorado, Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, and Patrick Crank of Wyoming. His nomination has also been praised by two former Attorneys General of the United States: Richard Thornburgh and William Barr.
Despite this clear widespread support for Myers from across the political spectrum, and across the nation, some opponents have attempted to falsely portray him as being hostile to environmental protection. In fact, Bill Myers is a committed conservationist and has a sensible environmental record.
He has demonstrated his personal commitment to environmental protection by rendering over 180 days of volunteer service for the National Park Service during the past 15 years. As solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, he fought vigorously to safeguard our nation’s environment. During his tenure in office, the Department of the Interior–with Myers’s full support–obtained a record $49 million settlement from Shell Oil, which had illegally flared and vented natural gas from oil-drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. He also authorized tough action to be taken against ranchers who were violating federal grazing laws and causing significant damage to federal lands.
And as for Bill’s comments over time–the ones that his opponents love to prattle on about–I think of all the dumb utterances I have wished I could take back–and if those had ever been compiled in one stack, I could never have been elected (or nominated to run for) dog catcher!
Those seeking to block Myers from serving on the Ninth Circuit have leveled the highly inflammatory charge that he is somehow insensitive to the concerns of Native Americans, an allegation that is once again totally absurd and at odds with the record. Bill Myers has been a strong defender of Native-American interests. During his tenure at the Interior Department, he helped to resolve the land claims of the Pueblo of Sandia, an Indian tribe in central New Mexico, and also supported an agreement paving the way for Maine’s Penobscot Indian Nation to once again exercise its tribal fishing rights. Because of this record of accomplishment on behalf of Native Americans, Bill’s nomination is supported by many distinguished Native American leaders, such as the chairman of the Quapaw Tribe, the governor of the Chickasaw Nation, and the board of the directors of the Tulalip tribes of Washington.
Later today, the members of the Senate will face a significant choice. They can either take an honest step towards restoring some semblance of reason to the most reversed circuit court in the nation, or they can surrender to the left-wing special-interest groups, who want to keep their unfair home-court advantage in the Ninth Circuit. For the sake of the poorly served residents of the Ninth Circuit and the nation as a whole, let’s hope that they take the high road and confirm Bill Myers.
–Alan Simpson is a former senator from Wyoming.