President Bush's decision to recycle the name of a previously rejected federal judgeship nominee shows the White House isn't ready to work with Democrats on filling bench vacancies, Senate Democrats said Tuesday.
Instead of trying to handle this issue cooperatively, Democrats charged, Mr. Bush is sending back the names of people with extreme views for consideration for vacancies on federal appellate courts.
The case in point Tuesday was William Myers, a former Interior Department lawyer whose nomination had already been thwarted in the Senate.
"I believe Mr. Myers to be the most anti-environment nominee sent to the Senate in my time here," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., had said during the confirmation hearing on Myers' nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But Myers, who worked as the Interior Department's top lawyer before going into private practice in Boise, Idaho, tried to assure Democrats that he could be fair as a judge despite his work for mining and cattle interests.
"As a lawyer, I was an advocate of my clients," he said. "If I was to be confirmed, I would be an advocate for the law."
But Myers' second appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to convince few Democrats.
"Your record screams 'passionate activist.' It doesn't even whisper 'impartial judge,'" Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told Myers.
It was Myers' second confirmation hearing because he was successfully blocked by Senate Democrats last year.
Republicans say he would be an excellent judge despite Democratic complaints.
"From what I've seen about your tenure here in the government, you are one of the better people who has worked here, one of the most knowledgeable people," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, chose Myers as the first nominee to consider because Specter believes he can get Democrats to vote for Myers. The Senate has 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one Democratic-leaning senator.
Republicans need 60 votes to ensure Democrats cannot block Myers. "And I count 58 votes," Specter said over the weekend.
Liberal and environmental groups are pressuring Democrats to stop Myers from getting a lifetime appointment on the appeals court.
"As a solicitor, Myers was very lopsided in his favoritism for the mining interests. He was unable to be impartial," Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said at a news conference with the National Wildlife Federation.
The second of Mr. Bush's nominees in line for a hearing is Terrence W. Boyle, a former aide to retired Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.
Boyle did not get a confirmation hearing during Bush's first term. Boyle is nominated to the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is scheduled to have a committee hearing Thursday.