Judicial Nominees Should Be Assessed For Application Of Law, Not Ideology.
By James L. Martin
Imagine it’s May 2001.
Crooner Perry Como dies. Sylvester Stallone’s “Driven” is tops at the box office but “The Mummy Returns” is no. 2 and closing. Janet Jackson’s “All For You” heads the pop charts. David McCullough’s wonderful biography of America’s second President, John Adams, sits atop the NY Times best seller list. The fledgling Arizona Diamondbacks are flexing new muscle and developing their march to a World Series season.
And in the same month, the President inaugurates the first T-Ball baseball game to the White House Lawn and welcomes the University of Nebraska’s ladies champions in NCAA volleyball to the Rose Garden.
Politically, President Bush names Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Richard Parsons of AOL-Time Warner to head a Social Security Commission that seeks answers for a sick-and-getting-sicker Social Security System. War with Iraq is but a low rumble and our beautiful World Trade Center Towers stand majestically in lower Manhattan.
That was May 2001. A small bite in time, but one that also featured another event worth noting: the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia.
There is a growing and ever-more important Hispanic populace in the United States that surely must be coming to grips with the fact that one of their own is held to a higher standard by Senate Democrats. Why else the filibuster?
Mr. Estrada has met with 10 high-ranking Democrats to propel his nomination forward with propriety and candor. But the filibuster persists.
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is on record from 1998 saying that if senators don’t like a judicial nominee, they should “vote against them. But give them a vote.”
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) said nearly the same thing in 1998, too, to “vote the person up or down.”
Democratic senators’ Feinstein (CA) and Biden (DE) are on record largely proclaiming the exact same thing.
And Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) opined in 1998, “If Senators are opposed to any judge, bring them up and vote against them. But don’t do an anonymous hold, which diminishes the credibility and respect of the whole U.S. Senate. (Let) the Senate do its duty. If we don’t like someone the President nominates, vote him or her down.”
I ask you, where are those voices now? How could they all have said one thing so short a time ago and done something so completely different today? Evidently, they’ve learned how to talk the talk but not walk the walk.
Here’s what we know since way back in May 2001 when President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada to become a judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrat after Democrat in the Senate has done all they could to trash his nomination. They’ve planted innuendo via a compliant major media suggesting this man is not fit for the appointment. And yet, we know he’s qualified enough to have been selected by a sitting President, to have served as a law clerk under Justice Anthony Kennedy at the Supreme Court, that he’s argued 15 cases before that august body and and been a federal prosecutor in New York.
As if that weren’t enough, Estrada, a self-defined specialist in constitutional law, has garnered the highest award offered by the American Bar Association. The Honduran native, who came to our country knowing little of our ways or even how to speak our language, has since graduated two Ivy League universities with honors, Columbia College and Harvard Law School. To say Miguel Estrada isn’t at least qualified for this opportunity is ridiculous.
That’s not confusing whether one agrees with the nominee, only that if ever there was a person who should be qualified, it’s Miguel Estrada.
There are many, many vacancies on our federal courts. They cause needless backlogs, frustration and an obvious delay of justice. The President has seen fit to nominate Mr. Estrada because he believes him to be well qualified. All the President asks — all the people of the United States deserve — all that the 60 Plus Association demands on behalf of seniors everywhere — is a simple vote, up or down.