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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Conservative Nominee for Influential Circuit Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 along straight party lines in support of confirming Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most influential appeals courts in the nation. Estrada has not demonstrated a commitment to women’s rights or civil rights and has refused to answer questions about his position on abortion rights or basic civil rights. During his hearing in the fall, 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.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Estrada to the Associated Press as a candidate who “appears to have been groomed to be an activist appellate judge by well-placed conservatives.” The nine Democratic Senators on the committee – Leahy, Edward Kennedy (MA), Joseph Biden (DE), Herbert Kohl (WI), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Russell Feingold (WI), Charles Schumer (NY), Richard Durbin (IL), and John Edwards (NC) – all voted against Estrada.

Senator Leahy and other Democrats on the Committee criticized the apparent effort by the Republican-led Committee to push the President’s federal judicial court nominees towards confirmation. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on three of the most reactionary of Bush’s appellate court nominees – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook and federal appellate attorneys John Roberts and Jeffrey Sutton – all three of whom are opposed by the Feminist Majority. Senator Leahy criticized Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for packing so many contentious circuit court nominees into a single hearing and declared, “This can only be seen as part of a concerted and partisan effort to pack the courts and tilt them sharply out of balance.”

Miguel Estrada’s nomination now goes to the full Senate for deliberation and a vote. The Feminist Majority joins other progressive, feminist organizations in urging that Senators vote against his nomination.

TAKE ACTION: Urge Senators to Filibuster Estrada on Tuesday

Sources:

Feminist Majority; Associated Press 1/30/03; Hearing Statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy 1/29/03

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