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Another Judgeship Likely to Stall in Senate

Senate Republicans on Monday pushed forward one of President Bush's court nominees to remind voters that Democrats have blocked some of the White House's most-desired judicial nominees (search).

The Senate will vote Tuesday on William Myers' (search) nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (searchin San Francisco, but Republicans are not expected to get the 60 votes needed to get past Democrats' objections.

"Some senators apparently believe that nominees who do not think like they do, and will not advocate their pet causes while on the bench, deserve nothing more than to be filibustered," Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Monday.

But Republicans aren't the only ones hoping to get a boost from Myers' nomination. Democrats say a vote on Myers gives them an opportunity to publicize how bad the Bush administration has been for the environment and the federal judicial system.

"This nomination brings the environment to the front burner as the Senate ends this summer session," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat. "William Myers epitomizes the anti-environmental tilt of so many Bush nominees."

If Myers is blocked Tuesday, he would be the seventh of Bush's appeals court nominees to be halted by Democrats on the Senate floor, a figure Republicans and Democrats are sure to tout at their political conventions.

"The public hasn't really heard much about judicial nominations since November" when Republicans staged an all-night debate on Bush's blocked nominees, said Sean Rushton of the Committee for Justice (search), a conservative group set up to help Bush get his nominees on the courts.

"We think it is a very, very important issue after the two most obvious issues (war and the economy), and it does resonate," Rushton said. "If it is put out there and explained properly, it becomes a proxy for several matters for swing voters," including gay marriage and the Pledge of Allegiance court decision.

Liberals complain about Myers' opposition to environmental protections when he was Interior Department (search) solicitor between 2001 and 2003, and his work as a private lawyer and lobbyist for cattle and mining interests.

"William Myers is one of the least qualified and most problematic judicial nominees the Bush administration has brought forward," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People For the American Way (search). "It's not that easy to stand out among Bush's bad nominees, but Myers does."

Senators also may vote on another nomination likely to be contested: Henry Saad, who was tapped for the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Michigan's Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, want Saad blocked in part because Republicans would not allow votes on two of President Clinton's nominees for that court.