FEBRUARY 25, 2003
People For the American Way Foundation
Tracy Duckett: (202) 467-4999
What President Bush Won't Say About Opposition
to Estrada Nomination
Hispanic Legal and Civil Rights Leaders Overwhelmingly
Oppose Confirmation; White House, GOP Senators Sacrifice Credibility
in Confirmation Campaign
- February 26 - President George W. Bush is meeting today with
members of the Latino Coalition and others supporting the nomination
of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
What President Bush will not tell Americans is that, contrary
to reports that the Hispanic community is evenly divided over
the Estrada nomination, a significant majority of major Hispanic
legal, civil rights, and worker rights organizations have joined
the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other national and community
leaders in energetically opposing Estrada's confirmation.
There is remarkable
hypocrisy and dishonesty demonstrated by those who complain that
the filibuster against Estrada's nomination is somehow unprecedented
or grounded in bigotry when many of the same people participated
in or supported filibusters and less public backroom blockades
against a number of President Clinton's well-qualified Hispanic
judicial nominees, some of whom never even got a hearing, and
some who were prevented from getting a vote for as long as four
will probably not acknowledge that 15 former presidents of the
National Hispanic Bar Association recently signed a statement
opposing Estrada's nomination. They say Estrada's candidacy falls
short in the critical areas of having demonstrated a commitment
to the concept of equal opportunity and equal justice under the
law and the extent to which he has been involved in, supportive
of, and responsive to the issues, needs and concerns of Hispanic
will most likely not call attention to the editorial published
by United Farm Workers Co-Founder Dolores Huerta decrying the
role that Estrada's nomination is playing in the larger effort
to shift the federal courts to the right. "To my friends who think
this is all about politicians fighting among themselves," she
wrote, "I ask you to think what would have happened over the last
40 years if the federal courts were fighting against workers'
rights and womens' rights and civil rights. And then think about
how quickly that could become the world we are living in."
will almost certainly not mention that in addition to the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational
Fund (MALDEF), and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education
Fund (PRLDEF), groups opposing Estrada's confirmation include
United Farm Workers of America, United States Hispanic Leadership
Institute, Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project,
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, La Raza Lawyers
Association of California, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, William
C. Velasquez Institute, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, PCUN (Pineros
y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste/ Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers
United), National Farm Worker Ministry, The Farmworker Association
of Florida, the California branch of the League of United Latin
American Citizens (LULAC) and LULAC of Montgomery County, Maryland.
These organizations and leaders have expressed their opposition
to Estrada's troubling record on issues facing the Hispanic community
such as discrimination and racial profiling, and his unwillingness
to discuss his judicial philosophy regarding constitutional law
and civil rights principles that are crucial to the protection
of individuals' civil rights.
will probably remain mum about the fact that Estrada's confirmation
is being aggressively championed by far-right organizations that
are trying to fill the federal courts with judges who embrace
the states' rights legal philosophy championed by the Federalist
Society of which Estrada is a member and by Supreme Court Justices
Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
hope that Bush will not repeat the offensive suggestions by Republican
senators and former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray that opposition
to Estrada's nomination is anti-Hispanic or motivated by bigotry
and a desire to deny job opportunities to Hispanic Americans.
The widespread opposition to Estrada's confirmation by so many
groups and individuals dedicated to promoting equal opportunity
and equality under the law makes it clear that that rhetoric is
unfair and untrue.
Many of the
administration's allies on the Estrada nomination are conservative-leaning
business groups like the Latino Coalition and its affiliated Hispanic
Business Roundtable, which have been consistent cheerleaders for
the Bush administration's economic policies. The Latino Coalition
has accused the Senate of "racial profiling" of Hispanic judicial
nominations, but we have seen no evidence that the group, which
was founded in 1995, spoke out when the Republican-led Senate
blocked several well-qualified Hispanic appeals court nominees
from even getting a hearing or vote during the Clinton administration,
or denounced GOP senators for stalling the nomination of appeals
court nominee Richard Paez for four years.
The lack of
credibility for accusations by the White House and Senate Republicans
that Estrada is being treated differently than other nominees
extends to other areas in which the facts have been made public
but Estrada's proponents keep sticking to the same misleading
talking points. Administration officials, for example, refuse
to acknowledge that there is ample precedent under both Republican
and Democratic administrations for the release of internal Justice
Department documents to senators evaluating judicial and other
high level nominees. Senator Patrick Leahy recently released documentation
for a number of examples in which the Senate has requested, and
past Justice Departments have provided, similar memoranda written
by Justice Department attorneys. The examples he cited included
the nominations of Robert Bork to become Associate Justice of
the Supreme Court; William Bradford Reynolds, Assistant Attorney
General for the Civil Rights Division, to become Associate Attorney
General; Benjamin Civiletti, nominated by President Carter to
become Attorney General; Stephen Trott, nominated to become a
judge in the Ninth Circuit; and then-Justice William Rehnquist,
who was nominated by President Reagan to become Chief Justice.
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