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ELI Calls for Full Senate Review of Judicial Nominees

November 2001

The Environmental Law Institute® expressed concern over the call for fast-track approval of judicial nominees in the name of national security. At a press conference this afternoon, Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are expected to endorse a controversial plan to approve the Administration’s slate of judicial nominees without the normal review of their qualifications.

The Environmental Law Institute® expressed concern over the call for fast-track approval of judicial nominees in the name of national security. At a press conference this afternoon, Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are expected to endorse a controversial plan to approve the Administration’s slate of judicial nominees without the normal review of their qualifications.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s influence over national affairs is well-known, but rulings by judges in the lower federal courts can have equal impact. With only a fraction of cases reaching the Supreme Court, the decisions of lower courts remain the final word in most cases.

“Rapid approval of these nominees does little to help law enforcement but a lot to determine the makeup of our courts for years to come,” said ELI Senior Attorney Bradley Bobertz. “With lifetime appointments we have just one chance to get it right.”

Over the years, America’s legacy of environmental protection has been threatened by an increasingly ideological and doctrinaire federal bench. Decisions that narrow Congress’s lawmaking authority and give special rights to property owners already jeopardize the Endangered Species Act and protection of the nation’s wetlands. These developments are not accidental, but the result of intentional and well-financed efforts to reshape the judiciary along ideological lines. If left unanswered, selective reinterpretation of constitutional principles will lead to the dismantling of environmental protections in our country.

Bobertz leads the Institute’s Environmental Law at the Crossroads initiative that seeks to end the continuing erosion of environmental law in the nation’s courtrooms. Working with many of the nation’s top legal scholars and environmental attorneys, ELI will bolster environmental law’s constitutional foundations by advocating an understanding of the Constitution that better reflects the document’s text and core principles and strengthens rather than weakens the case for environmental protection.

At stake is the very existence of environmental law,” Bobertz said, adding ”With so much at stake, it would be a mistake for the Senate to fail to carry out its constitutional duty to review these nominees.”

For more information about the Crossroads initiative or the Environmental Law Institute, please contact ELI’s Director of Communications, Kim Goldberg at 202-939-3833 or visit our website at http://www.eli.org.