As the Senate floor debate on the nomination of Miguel Estrada raged on, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, with a vote of 11-8, the nomination of far-right Jeffrey Sutton, nominated to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The committee then delayed votes on two other controversial nominees – Deborah Cook, also nominated to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and John Roberts, nominated for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unlike Estrada, who refuses to answer questions concerning his positions, the records of Sutton, Cook and Roberts are quite clear on civil rights and women’s rights. All three have indicated that they oppose the right to safe, legal abortion, protection from discrimination based on disability and age, and worker’s rights. In an obvious effort to pack the courts with far-right nominees, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) held one hearing for all three nominees late last month.
Meanwhile, on the Estrada front, the White House rejected Democratic demands for more information on Estrada. Alberto Gonzales, Bush’s chief counsel, told Senate Democratic leadership that they have “ample information” to vote on Estrada, as reported by Reuters.
Democrats were undeterred by this denial, with a continuing flow of Democratic Senators speaking on the Senate floor over the past several days – restating their commitment to block a vote on Estrada until he responds to questions posed during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and the White House releases documents related to Estrada’s service in the US Solicitor General’s Office. Although Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist adjourned the Senate for a weeklong Presidents Day recess today, the Estrada nomination will continue to be discussed as soon as the Senate comes back on February 24.