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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...

Latest Headlines:

Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waits on casino ruling from Trump team
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot
Change the Mascot campaign responds to negative Supreme Court ruling
Secretary Zinke set for another hearing on Interior Department budget
Mark Trahant: Republicans write health reform bill behind closed doors
Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater
Steven Newcomb: Asserting our traditions in the era of Donald Trump
Shasta Dazen: 'Family Spirit' program incorporates our tribal traditions
Secretary Zinke shuffles top Indian Affairs officials at Interior Department
Choctaw Nation travels to Ireland to dedicate 'Kindred Spirits' sculpture
Nooksack Tribe closes doors to casino after being hit with federal order
Muscogee Nation asserts authority at allotment where casino was proposed
Mark Trahant: Dakota Access decision offers a chance to return to respect
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe hails 'victory' in Dakota Access Pipeline case
Nooksack Tribe told to close casino amid leadership and citizenship feud
Kristi Noem: Enough is enough - It's time to fix the Indian Health Service
Second hearing scheduled on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Trump nominee for appeals court seen as favorable to tribal interests
Terese Mailhot: We don't tell Native women how brilliant they really are
Indian Country cheers as judge orders review of Dakota Access Pipeline
Jacqueline Keeler: Connecting the Dakota Access Pipeline to history
Cronkite News: Tribes win decision in water rights dispute in Arizona
Secretary Zinke rejects complaints about consultation and Bears Ears
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves two bills at meeting
Embattled Indian Health Service hospital losing top executive again
Connecticut tribes heap praise on senior Trump administration official
Gabe Galanda: Tribal 'membership' rules strip away at sovereignty
Swinomish Tribe still pursuing lawsuit against oil trains on reservation
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians unveil biking and hiking trail system
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community shares $1.3M in gaming revenues
>>> more headlines...

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.