Senate Democrats announced yesterday that they have the votes to keep debate open on the Senate floor to block President Bush’s nomination of right-wing Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. In a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said that Democrats would block a cloture vote with the 41 necessary votes until Estrada answered questions previously posed to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Bush administration released documents related to Estrada’s service in the US Solicitor General’s Office.
“Why is it that we have access to the records of virtually every other nominee? Either this nominee knows nothing or he feels that he must hide something – it is one or the other,” Daschle said. “When someone undermines the constitutional responsibility [the Senate has] to advise and consent, we take that very seriously.”
The Feminist Majority is a member of a massive coalition of civil rights, women’s rights, Latino, disability, lesbian and gay rights and labor groups that is fighting the Estrada nomination and Bush’s court packing. Estrada’s nomination is especially important because, if appointed, he could become the critical swing vote on the highest court in the appeals circuit that is routinely the court of last resort for federal regulations.
Republicans have threatened to test the Democrats commitment to a filibuster by keeping the Senate in session through next week’s planned President Day recess. “If they want to stay through the weekend, we’ll stay through the weekend,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the Associated Press. However, the Democrats have voiced their commitment to maintaining debate. “The Constitution and the advise and consent process is more important than whether we are here next week or not,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told The Hill.