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Opposition to Estrada Mounts

With a full Senate vote on President Bush’s nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals possible today, efforts to block the vote with a filibuster have heightened to a fever pitch. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) will be joined by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Representatives Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ciro Rodriquez (D-TX), both members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in a press conference this afternoon to speak out about Estrada’s nomination. Meanwhile, the Feminist Majority and a large group of progressive organizations are continuing to urge people to contact their Senators and demand a no vote on cloture on Estrada – a candidate Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has called “a far-right stealth nominee.”

Despite the fact that Estrada is a Latino, his nomination has been opposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund (PRLDEF) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). “Estrada has neither demonstrated that he understands the needs of Latino Americans nor expressed interest in the Latino community,” Antonia Hernandez, president and general counsel of MALDEF, wrote in the LA Times. “A thorough review of his sparse record indicates he would probably make rulings that roll back the civil rights of Latinos. Simply being a Latino does not make one qualified to be a judge.”

Estrada, who has been nominated to a position on what is largely regarded the second highest court in the nation, has refused to disclose his viewpoints on critical issues. Much in the same vein as far-right Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who served as a justice on the DC court before being nominated to the Supreme Court, many have speculated that Estrada could eventually become another far-right element on the High Court.

During Estrada’s hearing before the Judiciary Committee last month, Estrada refused to answer questions about his position on abortion rights or basic civil rights. 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.

Estrada has close ties to the Bush administration. “Estrada’s unwillingness to come clean is indeed reason enough to reject him,” reads an editorial in The Nation. “But here’s a better reason: Estrada was one of the five lead lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who worked on George Bush’s legal strategy – hand in hand, of course, with five Supreme Court justices – to hijack the 2000 presidential election in Jim Crow’s Florida.”

TAKE ACTION Urge Senators To Filibuster Estrada

Sources:

LA Times 2/5/03; The Nation 2/4/03; American Prospect 3/1/03; Feminist Daily News 2/3/03; Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle Press Release 2/4/03