For Immediate Release

February 13, 2003

Senate Democrats Fight Bush's Attempts to Pack the Courts

WASHINGTON, DC Ð As feminists across the country organize and phone calls, letters and emails continue to pour in, the Feminist Majority commends the Democratic leadership for taking a stand against President Bush’s efforts to pack the nation’s courts with far-right ideologues. By committing the 41 votes necessary to block a vote on right-wing nominee Miguel Estrada, the Democratic leadership is giving voice to its massive base of labor, civil rights, women’s rights, disability rights, environmental, gay and lesbian rights groups.

“The Democrats have heard the message from the vast coalition of people organizing around the country, which is their base,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “This coalition is holding firm. The Democrats are holding firm.”

Estrada has been nominated to serve on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If appointed, he could become the crucial swing vote on the second highest court in the land – routinely the court of last resort for federal regulations. While widely regarded as a right-wing ideologue, Estrada refused to answer questions regarding his viewpoints on any issues during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Bush administration has refused to release documents written while Estrada worked for the Department of Justice that might show his positions.

Yesterday, the Senate Democratic leadership said that there would be no vote on Estrada until he answers questions posed to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Bush administration releases those documents and/or his nomination is withdrawn.

“This fight for Miguel Estrada is a fight for every government regulation that guarantees our rights Ð from Title IX and equal opportunity to environmental protections, workers’ rights and health care,” Smeal said. “We will allow no Trojan Horse that will gut 30 years of work. We’ll fight for as long as it takes.”

The Feminist Majority is a member of a coalition of civil rights, women’s rights, disability, Latino, lesbian and gay rights and labor groups that is fighting Estrada’s nomination. Despite the fact that Estrada is a Latino, his nomination has been opposed by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund (PRLDEF), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.



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