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Myers withdraws nomination for 9th Circuit seat

William G. Myers III, a former Interior Department official whose handling of sacred sites and the Indian trust angered tribes, withdrew his name from consideration for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Myers was the top attorney at Interior from July 2001 to October 2003. During that time, he reversed an opinion that protected a sacred site without consulting the tribe affected and he advocated for limits on the federal government's trust duties. Both times, his views were rejected by the courts.

Tribes united in opposition to Myers, whose name was re-submitted a third time by President Bush last month. With Democrats in control of the Senate, Myers did not have a future. Three other controversial nominees were also dropped.

Tribal leaders welcomed the development. They noted that the 9th Circuit hears a significant number of Indian law cases, since it covers 10 states, including California, Alaska and Hawaii.

"Indian Country had grave concerns about Mr. Myers' ability to apply the law fairly and impartially," said Joe Garcia, the president of the National Congress of American Indians. "A lifetime appointment to the Ninth Circuit, which contains millions of acres of public lands, hundreds of Indian reservations, more than 400 Indian tribes, and millions of Indian people, is just too important to the future of Indian people."

NCAI took the unprecedented step of opposing a judicial nominee when Myers was first nominated back in November 2003. Tex Hall, the president of the organization at the time, said he wasn't surprised to hear about the withdrawal, "given the November election results."

"I hope this reflects a better sense in the White House that the views of Native Americans on judicial nominees are going to be an important factor from here on out," Hall said.

Get the Story:
4 Nominees To Appeals Courts Are Dropped (The Washington Post 1/10)
Bush Drops Plans to Renominate 3 Judges (The New York Times 1/10)

Relevant Links:
Judicial nominees, Department of Justice site -

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

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

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

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