With action anticipated sometime today, debate heated up on the floor of the US Senate over President Bush’s nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Senators from both sides of the aisle spent much of yesterday and today debating the “far-right stealth nominee” who has refused to answer questions about his opinions on important issues such as civil rights and abortion. Meanwhile, the Feminist Majority and a wide coalition of progressive groups joined leading Democrats in efforts to secure the 41 votes necessary to block Estrada’s nomination with a no vote on cloture.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) delivered a rousing speech this morning about how the Senate, constitutionally endowed with a responsibility to advise and consent on presidential nominations for lifetime judicial appointments, could not approve Estrada in good conscience without any information on his viewpoints. “How can you advise and how can you consent when you can’t even get any information?” Clinton posed. “Someone who has no opinion certainly does not deserve an appointment to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.”
“The Estrada nomination is making a mockery of our constitutional responsibility in the US Senate,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), echoed in his speech on the floor today. “The Clarence Thomas strategy and tactics are being followed today by Miguel Estrada.”
Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined the nine other Democratic committee members last month in a vote against Estrada’s nomination. During this hearing, Estrada was asked whether he thought Roe v. Wade and Romer v. Evans (the case that struck down Colorado’s anti-gay rights measure) were correctly decided. He declined to answer, stating that he had not read the briefs, listened to the arguments or researched the issues. He gave a similar answer when asked about Supreme Court cases in the areas of environmental protection and labor rights.
Far-right Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who served as a justice on the DC court before being nominated to the Supreme Court, adopted a similar silence when questioned by the Senate more than a decade ago. As with Thomas, many have speculated that Estrada could eventually become another far-right element on the High Court.
TAKE ACTION Urge Senators to Filibuster Estrada