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On behalf of the undersigned organizations and the millions of members we represent, we strongly urge you to reject the judicial nomination of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
If confirmed, Mr. Bush will serve a lifetime appointment, while Mr. Schiff will serve a fifteen-year term. Both nominees have track records that threaten the independence of the judiciary and our democracy.
Mr. Bush has a record that reflects support for corporations and dark money in politics, at the expense of the public interest. In a 2002 amicus brief, Mr. Bush stated that “all political speech enjoys the highest degree of First Amendment protection.” Statements like this demonstrate Mr. Bush’s hostility towards the regulatory power of federal agencies and campaign finance laws. In addition to Mr. Bush’s financial interest, he lacks good judgment. When the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Mr. Bush about judicial impartiality, he stated that impartiality was “an aspiration.” An aspiring impartial judge is not fit to serve on our courts.
Mr. Schiff’s strong criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his extreme view that the EPA should compensate property owners for losses in value resulting from the need to comply with new regulations, reveal that he too lacks the proper temperament toward our regulatory agencies. In 2017, Schiff authored an article arguing for judicial review reform for environmental decision-making, which would threaten the progress achieved on environmental safeguards. On the Lou Dobbs show Schiff stated that “[the] problem with the [EPA] across the board [is] treating American citizens as if the[y] were not American citizens, [but] as if they were [sic] slaves.” Schiff statements are not only egregious but demonstrate prejudice against the EPA.
Mr. Schiff has also been critical of the basic safeguards that protect our everyday workforce, including maintaining that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is unconstitutional despite the fact that OSHA is critical to ensuring that millions of people in this country are not exposed to toxic and hazardous work conditions every day. When it comes to endangered species, Mr. Schiff has expressed viewpoints that reflect hostility to the protections that the Congress has put in place. He supports the prioritization of economic costs over the importance of endangered wildlife.
Together, their political ideology will blind their perception of litigants in support of environmental safeguards. The lower courts will likely oversee controversial cases related to environmental issues, and their positions and statements on the record reveal a level of bias that makes them unsuitable for the judiciary. As you know, opinions issued by lower court judges are often the final decision. It is important that the Senate strongly consider lower court nominees’ principles and independence before confirmation. Mr. Bush and Mr. Schiff’s record make it clear that they will not be impartial judges, and we must protect the independence of our judiciary.
For the reasons above, we strongly urge the Senate to reject the judicial nomination of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
League of Conservation Voters
Center for Biological Diversity
cc: Senate Judiciary Committee