Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 18° Cloudy
News >  Idaho

Andrus supports 9th Circuit nominee

Chuck Oxley Associated Press

BOISE – Democrat Cecil Andrus, former Idaho governor and former Interior secretary, is supporting Boise attorney William Myers for a federal appellate judgeship, one of 10 such nominations currently before the U.S. Senate.

Myers is a former Interior Department official who once worked for mining and cattle interests. His name was one of four submitted to the Bush administration by Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig in 2003 to replace Judge Tom Nelson, also of Idaho, on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Nelson has since moved to senior status on the appellate court.

This past March, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a 10-8 party-line vote, sent Myers’ nomination to the full Senate for approval. The confirmation awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

Most recently in Congress, Craig appealed to fellow senators on April 20, pleading for his colleagues not to make Myers’ nomination a partisan issue.

“Democrat Governor of Idaho Cecil Andrus, secretary of the Interior for President Carter, said Bill Myers is a man of ‘great personal integrity, judicial temperament and legal experience,’ as well as he has ‘the ability to act fairly on matters of law that will come before him on the court,’ ” Craig said on the Senate floor, adding that former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan, also a Democrat, made a similar recommendation.

Nevertheless, the nomination has been contentious. Liberals have criticized Myers’ opposition to environmental protections when he was Interior Department solicitor, from 2001-2003, and particularly his work as a private lawyer and lobbyist for cattle and mining interests.

Conservatives say he is highly qualified and would bring needed balance to the 9th Circuit, which is viewed as the nation’s most liberal federal appeals court.

Andrus acknowledged his support for Myers in a telephone interview Monday, despite Myers’ history of using tough rhetoric on behalf of natural resource industries.

“Bombastic rhetoric is what a lawyer does when he works for a client,” Andrus said. “If you work for the Idaho Cattle Association, you’re not going to be a tree-hugging posy sniffer.”

Western Watersheds Project Director Jon Marvel said he was unaware that Andrus had chosen to support Myers, but he declined to criticize the former governor for taking the position. Marvel’s Hailey-based group has taken on numerous legal fights to champion environmental causes around the West.

“Cecil Andrus is welcome to support whoever he wants, but people who are concerned about the Bush administration’s attack on the environment ought to be concerned about having Bill Myers on the federal bench,” Marvel said.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has led his party’s continued opposition to Myers, saying the appointment reflects the Bush administration’s “outright contempt for high environmental standards.”

An issue brief written by Leahy’s staff on the committee said Myers has a “manifestly anti-environmental record which can be seen in his work in private practice, as a lobbyist and for the federal government.”

Myers himself was not available for comment on Monday, his office said. He did not immediately return a telephone message left by the Associated Press.

But one of his former political foes, environmental attorney Laird Lucas, executive director of Advocates for the West, acknowledged that Myers has been a “forceful advocate for ranching interests in the Owyhee area” in southwestern Idaho, where cattlemen have tangled with environmental groups concerned about overgrazing.

Lucas said he could not recall any specific rhetoric that Myers used against him or others in his representation of the resource-based industries or in government. But he said any such words or phrases were less a concern than Myers’ overarching record.

“When someone has spent their entire career representing these kinds of clients, you can understand why the environmental community would be concerned about this,” Lucas said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.