indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Appeals court nominee favored industry over tribes
Thursday, December 18, 2003

The nation's largest inter-tribal organization took the unprecedented step last month of opposing one of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Idaho attorney William G. Myers III would make decisions on a large number of Indian law cases. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals covers more than 100 tribes in eight Western states, including California. It also hears cases affecting Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

But the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) says the confirmation "will not be in the best interest of the tribes." Actions taken by Myers as the Department of Interior's top lawyer "show a deep lack of respect and understanding of the unique political relationship between the federal government and tribal governments," a resolution passed at NCAI's annual convention states.

Last month, Myers stepped down as Solicitor of the Interior. It was a post he held since July 2001, when he was confirmed along with several other Bush nominees, including former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb, who resigned a year ago this month amid controversy.

Before he left office, Myers played a role in a number of high-profile Indian cases, including the Cobell v. Norton lawsuit, two tribal trust fund lawsuits that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and several disputes that pitted tribes against the mining industry, which he used to represent in private practice.

On at least three occasions, Myers sided with mining interests. He cleared the way for a proposed gold mine that threatens the sacred sites of the Quechan Nation of California; he worked to lift a ban on drilling near a lake used by several northern California tribes for religious purposes; and he supported a mining company that wants to open a kitty litter plant next to a reservation just across California's border in Nevada.

It was these cases that prompted California tribes to take the lead in registering NCAI's first official opposition to a judicial nominee. The Coyote Band of Pomo Indians introduced the resolution that the organization passed last month. In October, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), which represents 57 tribes, also voted to oppose Myers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a nomination hearing for Myers, who has since rejoined the Boise, Idaho, office of the Holland & Hart law firm. Over the past year, Republicans and Democrats on the panel have been squabbling over some of Bush's more controversial nominees.

The committee did ask Myers to list "the ten most significant litigated matters that you personally handled." In response, Myers named a Supreme Court case involving the Bishop Paiute Tribe of California.

On behalf of the Bush administration, Myers and other government attorneys argued that the tribe did not have a right to sue county law enforcement officials who seized records from the tribe's casino armed with boltcutters. In a unanimous decision in May, the high court agreed.

Myers also listed the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache trust cases that were decided by the Supreme Court this year. On behalf of the administration, Myers and other government attorneys argued that the U.S. was not liable for the mismanagement of tribal trust assets without an explicit law. In siding with the Apaches while turning away the Navajos, a majority of justices rejected this defense.

NCAI and the California tribes aren't the only groups opposing Myers. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee this October, a coalition of 23 national environmental organizations accused him of ethical lapses for deciding on matters affecting former clients. The letter also stated that no members of the American Bar Association rated Myers "well qualified" and six or seven rated him "not qualified" to hold a judicial post.

Interior's Inspector General has opened an investigation to determine whether Myers violated his promise to recuse himself from matters affecting former clients. The review is not complete. A separate investigation centers on a settlement Myers' office negotiated with a rancher in Wyoming over the objections of the U.S. Attorney's office there.

Relevant Documents:
NCAI Resolution | Environmental Group's Letter | Holland & Hart Biography

Indianz.Com Profile:
Industry insider named to Interior (March 30, 2001)

From the Archive:
Myers reversing sacred site opinion (10/25)
Bush nominee has no 'agenda' on Clinton decisions (6/21)

Related Stories:
Interior's top lawyer stepping down next month (10/02)
DOI's top lawyer under ethics investigation (08/15)
Interior has few answers at Senate hearing (7/18)
Tribes push action on sacred sites (3/21)
Interior Solicitor on trust fund crash course (10/17)
Memo: Solicitor's order was 'intimidating' (10/10)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
A 'dark period' in American history: Repatriation committee gets back on track
A 'dark period' in American history: Repatriation committee gets back on track
The Trump administration has finally announced new advocates for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Cronkite News: Trump ally submits signatures for busy Senate race
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio supports everything Donald Trump does. But he's not a "yes man."

Malinda Maynor Lowery: Indigenous people are the original Southerners
Malinda Maynor Lowery: Indigenous people are the original Southerners
When people see Southern history in black and white, where are American Indians? A Lumbee citizen asks a key question.

School on Pine Ridge Reservation immerses children in Lakota culture
School on Pine Ridge Reservation immerses children in Lakota culture
A school on the Pine Ridge Reservation is immersing children in Lakota culture, turning the tide against genocide and trauma.

Tribes back bill to protect ancestral lands from Trump's energy push
Tribes back bill to protect ancestral lands from Trump's energy push
Tribal leaders want to prevent the Trump administration from allowing energy development on ancestral lands.

House committee set to advance Republican-sponsored Indian bills
House committee set to advance Republican-sponsored Indian bills
The House Committee on Natural Resources is due to advance three Indian bills at a markup session on Capitol Hill.

Indian Health Service back in the hot seat with budget hearing
Indian Health Service back in the hot seat with budget hearing
It's almost been a year since the Indian Health Service came under heavy fire before lawmakers who control the agency's funding.

Cronkite News: San Carlos Apache activist joins rally at U.S. Capitol
Cronkite News: San Carlos Apache activist joins rally at U.S. Capitol
'There are many issues that need to be addressed, but Congress doesn’t matter if there’s no water,' said Apache activist Wendsler Nosie Sr.

Graham Lee Brewer: Discrimination against Native students all too common
Graham Lee Brewer: Discrimination against Native students all too common
Discrimination against two young Mohawk men at Colorado State University highlights an all-too-common misunderstanding.

Mark Trahant: Paulette Jordan could be the first Native governor
Mark Trahant: Paulette Jordan could be the first Native governor
Conventional wisdom says Paulette Jordan has no chance, but Idaho is changing fast.

Scrambled Eggs: How the Trump team is mixing up the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Scrambled Eggs: How the Trump team is mixing up the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Still wondering about that reorganization? A former Bureau of Indian Affairs official explains it.

Yakama Nation dedicates new center to help veterans with services
Yakama Nation dedicates new center to help veterans with services
The Yakama Warriors Association finally has a place to call home on the reservation in Washington.

Teen ordered to apologize to treaty tribes for starting massive fire
Teen ordered to apologize to treaty tribes for starting massive fire
A 15-year-old boy started a massive fire that endangered treaty and cultural resources along the Columbia River.

Navajo Nation casinos generate another $10 million for chapter communities
Gaming continues to benefit communities on the Navajo Nation.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe gains local support for homelands legislation
After seeing some initial opposition, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has gained local support for a bill to protect its homelands in Massachusetts.

Connecticut governor seeks to negotiate sports betting with tribes
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe could be on the road to sports betting soon in Connecticut.

Muscogee Nation clashes with state in reservation boundary dispute
Muscogee Nation clashes with state in reservation boundary dispute
The Muscogee Nation and the state of Oklahoma are headed into a historic sovereignty clash thanks to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court sides with tribal interests in sovereign immunity case
Supreme Court sides with tribal interests in sovereign immunity case
In a rare win for Indian Country, the nation's highest court has sided with tribal interests in a closely-watched sovereign immunity case.

Doug George-Kanentiio: Energy company still hostile to indigenous interests
Doug George-Kanentiio: Energy company still hostile to indigenous interests
The Mohawk people can abide by our ancestral morals and reject a deal with the Enbridge energy company.

Mark Trahant: Native candidates in New Mexico react to polls and controversy
Mark Trahant: Native candidates in New Mexico react to polls and controversy
As voters head to the polls in New Mexico, Deb Haaland is in a tight three-way race while Gavin Clarkson is still stirring controversy.

Cronkite News: Republican version of Farm Bill defeated in House
Cronkite News: Republican version of Farm Bill defeated in House
Two Arizona lawmakers were among the 30 Republicans who crossed the aisle and joined all Democrats to send the $868 billion farm bill to defeat.

Mike Males: It's not schools that are dangerous for our children
Mike Males: It's not schools that are dangerous for our children
Schools are the sites of fewer than 3 percent of students’ gun homicides; the other 97 percent occur somewhere other than school.

Tribes seek a seat at table as states look into sports betting
With a landmark Supreme Court decision on the books, tribes from California to Connecticut want to be at the table when it comes to sports betting.

Native Sun News Today: Tribal leaders named to national environmental panel
Native Sun News Today: Tribal leaders named to national environmental panel
Chairman Mark Fox of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has been thrust into the spotlight with a new role.

James Giago Davies: One of these days we are going to actually read the book
James Giago Davies: One of these days we are going to actually read the book
In every Wasicu church, and on every reservation, are holy men who can’t even tell you what caused the sky to be blue or thunder to crackle.

Hopi Tribe seeks support for long-overdue land transfer
Hopi Tribe seeks support for long-overdue land transfer
The Hopi Tribe is looking to federal government to fulfill a long-overdue promise that's connected to a seemingly endless land dispute.

Lac du Flambeau Band awaits results of autopsy in search for missing man
Lac du Flambeau Band awaits results of autopsy in search for missing man
Family and friends are offering tributes to Antonio Roché, a 24-year-old Lac du Flambeau man who went missing earlier this month.

Redding Rancheria pays tribute to late former chairwoman Barbara Murphy
Redding Rancheria pays tribute to late former chairwoman Barbara Murphy
Barbara Murphy, a former chairwoman of the Redding Rancheria, passed away on May 8. She was 79.

Agua Caliente Band donates $25,000 in gear to local fire department
Agua Caliente Band donates $25,000 in gear to local fire department
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is helping out a new crew of firefighters in southern California.

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.