Wednesday, January 10, 2007
William Myers Withdraws Bid for Confirmation to Ninth Circuit
President Resubmits Nominations of Five Superior Court Judges to Central District of California Bench
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
In a concession to the Senate’s new Democratic majority, President Bush won’t rename four controversial federal appeals court nominees whose confirmations were blocked last year, including Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee William G. Myers III, Republican officials said yesterday.
Meyers, William Haynes, and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House’s decision, according to an ally.
The president did resubmit 28 district and circuit judge nominations, including one in the Ninth Circuit and five in the Central District of California.
Myers sparked opposition from environmentalist organizations and their allies among Senate Democrats.
A former solicitor at the Interior Department, Myers also worked as a lobbyist for cattle and mining interests. Groups that opposed him said he continued to favor policies that helped these groups, even after he left their employment.
Myers’ fight for confirmation because even tougher last month, when a report in the Denver Post based on public records showed Myers was one of two dozen people to attend a dinner party with once-powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff in September 2001. Myers had denied in a March 2005 letter ever meeting Abramoff, who pled guilty in an influence-peddling scandal in January of last year.
Myers was originally nominated in May 2003 in anticipation of Judge Thomas G. Nelson taking senior status, which he did on Nov. 14, 2003. The nomination was sent to the floor by the Judiciary Committee in 2004 on a party-line vote of 10-8.
Republican senators tried and failed in July 2005 to force a floor vote on the nomination. The vote on the motion to invoke cloture was 53-44, short of the three-fifths required, with both California senators voting against.
No agreement concerning Myers was reached when a bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise to avert filibusters on several other nominees. Myers was rated “qualified” by a “substantial majority”—meaning at least two-thirds—of the ABA committee and “not qualified” by the panel’s other members.
Haynes is the Pentagon’s top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush’s now-abandoned policy toward treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been tapped for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.
Boyle is a federal judge in North Carolina, and his appointment to the Fourth Circuit provoked opposition from Democrats who cited his rulings in civil rights and disability cases, as well as his higher-than-average reversal rate by higher courts.
Wallace’s appointment to the Fifth Circuit drew opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and the American Bar Association.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said only “consensus nominees” are likely to win confirmation under the new Democratic majority — a declaration that effectively doomed the chances for the four men whose appointments were left in limbo when the Senate adjourned last year for the elections.
Deputy White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president was disappointed about the withdrawals. “Each of these nominees was well-qualified to serve as judges and would have been confirmed if they had been given a fair, up-or-down vote in the Senate,” Perino said.
“Unfortunately, a few selected senators prevented these nominees from receiving fair consideration,” Perino added. “The president is disappointed in this inaction, and hopes that the days of judicial obstructionism are beyond us.”
One Senate Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, issued a statement saying, “This reversal is one of the first tangible signs that the president heard and is heeding the message from Novembers election.”
But Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, countered for conservatives. “In support of their own agenda of liberal judicial activism, Senate Democrats have engaged in unprecedented measures of obstruction against the president’s highly qualified nominees,” he said.
Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submit a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president’s intentions.
Bush resubmitted the nomination of N. Randy Smith, a trial judge from Pocatello, Idaho and former chairman of his state’s Republican Party, to fill the Ninth Circuit vacancy created when Judge Stephen S. Trott took senior status at the end of 2004. The Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21 of last year voted 10-8 on a party-line vote to send the nomination of Smith to the full Senate. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Judiciary Committee, rallied Democratic opposition to the nomination, saying that since both Trott—who moved to Idaho after his appointment—and his predecessor were from California, Trott’s successor should come from this state as well.
Smith was unanimously rated “well qualified” by the American Bar Association’s judicial evaluating panel, and it has been speculated that Myers’ withdrawal could set the stage for Smith’s confirmation if a Californian is nominated to fill the other vacancy.
A call seeking comment from Feinstein was not returned.
Orange Superior Court Judge James E. Rogan and Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Valerie L. Baker, Philip Gutierrez, George Wu, and Otis Wright II were again nominated to the vacant seats in the Central District.
Gutierrez and Baker cleared the Judiciary Committee last September, but an agreement that would have resulted in them and other nominees being confirmed before last month’s congressional adjournment fell through because of a controversy involving Judge Janet Neff, a nominee from Michigan who was objected to by conservatives after it was disclosed that she had attended a commitment ceremony involving a same-sex couple.
Neff was not among those whose nominations were resubmitted yesterday, nor were two other Michigan nominees whose selections the state’s Democratic senators were prepared to support as part of last year’s compromise.
Those nominated yesterday included Debra Livingston to the Second Circuit; Thomas Hardiman to the Third Circuit; and Peter D. Keisler to the D.C. Circuit; along with district court nominees John Preston Bailey of West Virginia; Vanessa Lynne Bryant of Connecticut; Roslynn Renee Mauskopf and Mary O. Donohue of New York; Martin Karl Reidinger, Thomas Alvin Farr, Thomas D. Schroeder, and William Lindsay Osteen Jr. of North Carolina; Nora Barry Fischer of Pennsylvania; Gregory Kent Frizzell of Oklahoma; Marcia Morales Howard of Florida; John Alfred Jarvey of Iowa; Frederick J. Kapala of Illinois; Sara Elizabeth Lioi of Ohio; Liam O’Grady of Virginia; Halil Suleyman Ozerden of Mississippi; Benjamin Hale Settle of Washington; and Lisa Godbey Wood of Georgia.
The president also resubmitted the nomination of Lawrence J. O’Neill to be district judge for the Eastern District of California.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company