How can Estrada answer Democrats' questions if they don't ask?

The White House called the Democrats’ bluff. It invited them to send further questions to appellate court nominee Miguel Estrada, and promised a prompt answer.

Not a single question was asked by the Democrats. Not one.

The Democrats claim that they are filibustering Estrada because of his refusal to provide information. Apparently, they are lying through their teeth. Democrats don’t want answers; they want an excuse to blackball Miguel Estrada.

Anyone want to defend the Democrats on this point?

Why should the Democrats ask questions if they’re pretty sure he’ll either evade or lie? “as he has before”.


That’s what I like about the Dems. No need to ask questions since they already KNOW the answers.

Mtgman, surely you can do better than that.

december, get ready for this. You sitting down? As long as you can provide a non-partisan cite that no Democrats have submitted questions this time around and that they have had ample time to do so, and as long as I view phrases like “lying through their teeth” and “blackball” as characteristic hyperbole…I completely agree with your OP.


Good for you, Gadarene. I tried to find a confirmation in Instead I found this comment from Ari Fleisher’s press conference yesterday.

Fleisher’s comment doesn’t confirm the OP, but it does provide an additional indication that most Democratic Senators are not genuinely interested in researching Estrada’s views.

How does/would this Q&A process effect a current (i.e. “ongoing”) filibuster? How does it fit in with Senate procedure? Is it normal to review a nomination (which is effectively what the Q&A would be) after it has been moved out of committee and offered for floor approval?

There’s much more involved here, I think, than “calling a ‘bluff’.” The time for Estrada to have forthrightly answered questions was during review by the Judicial committee.

First of all, it would be silly to reject an otherwise well-qualified candidate because certain questions hadn’t been resolved earlier.

Second, if you’re talking about normal Senate procedure, normal procedure is for the full Senate to follow the Committee recommendation. Don’t forget that Estrada’s answers satisfied the majority of the Committee. This point is hypothetical. The reality is that Democrats want to defeat him and Republicans want to approve him.

Cutting to the chase, xenophon41, your post assumes that Estrada did not forthrightly answer questions he was asked during review by the Judicial committee. The Republicans deny this charge. They point out that his questioning was much longer than most candidates. They point to the example of Democratic nominees who refused to take a stand on issues that might come before them as judges. They point out that Estrada said he considered Roe v. Wade as established law and he would follow it. So, there’s a disagreement as to facts.

If the Democrats want to prove Estrada’s lack of forthright answers, they could re-ask their questions in writing. Then, they could use Estrada’s written evasions to damn him for evasiveness. But, no Democrat chose to ask any of these alleged unanswered questions now. Their failure to ask creates doubt that Estrada ever evaded any appropriate questions. Note that the Washington Post (usually a Democratic paper) doesn’t think he did so.

Well guess what kids, it doesn’t matter anyway.

The Republicans are going to file a cloture request within a couple hours. Invoking cloture would limit debate to 30 hours, followed immediately by a vote.

But a cloture motion requires 60 votes to pass, and 43 Democrats and Jim Jeffords are committed to voting against the motion. Basically, the GOP is giving up, knowing they can’t bust the filibuster, but by doing this they can paint the Dems as obstructionists. It carries other negative political risks for the Republicans, though, including Bill Frist losing the first significant floor battle in his time as Majority Leader.

They’ll keep Estrada on the backburner for awhile, hoping that some Democrats will gradually decide to oppose a filibuster. If debate were to ever end, after all, Estrada would surely be confirmed. Every Republican is firmly behind him and four other Democrats also support him. But 51+4 does not equal the 60 needed to end debate.

Hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, december.

Yes, I had read that here.

I agree.

You might be right. My impression is that the Republicans are split. Some say that they will give up temporarily. Others say they will maintain a political campaign against those Senators who voted for a filibuster, especially aimed at the Hispanic community in each state where a Senator is up for re-election in 2004.

Note that the Republicans control the timing. They can even bring the debate back in fall of 2004, when it will have the greatest electoral impact. It would be a Pyrrhic victory for the Democrats if they blocked Estrada, but lost half a dozen Senate seats.

However, you are correct that the Democrats can win this battle. The question is what the cost will be and whether they will be willing to bear the cost. Ronald Reagan once said that most Hispanics were Republicans who “just don’t know it yet.” Maybe the Estrada battle will help them find out.

There is no need to question him.

His ideas (expressed in his judicial record) are not in the best interest of the majority of Americans.

How much more do you want your elected officials to do for you?

:confused: He never was a judge. He has no judicial record.

Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Regardless, they clearly believe they won’t get the answers from Estrada because they feel he weasels instead of answering their questions. If I felt a person was weaseling instead of answering I’d stop questioning them too. The odds of them decieving me are just too high.

But, I’m not a Democrat, so I don’t really care.


My mistake. I meant his record as a conservative lawyer. In addition, his firm’s representation of Bush during the election debacle should firmly remind you what he stands for.

I agree that the Democrats don’t think they’ll get the answers they want from Estrada. But, it’s more likely that their concern is that he won’t weasel. A written record with complete answers to all appropriate questions would demolish that Democratic talking point. OTOH if Estrada weaseled, that would strengthen the Democrats’ position.

Yes, Democrats may be punishing Estrada because his firm successfully represented Bush during the elections. This sort of pettiness goes on far too often in the Senate, by both parties. Note that the Dems made it clear that they would never approve Congressmen Christopher Cox of California as a judge, although he’s extemely well-qualified. Cox’s “sin” was to be active in the impeachment struggle.

As for Estrada having a record as a conservative lawyer, please provide cites and information. He has certainly taken liberal positions on cases. E.g., he represented pro-bono a defandant charged with murder, in a effort to avoid the death penalty. As Solicitor General, he took the side of the National Organization of Women on one case and won a unanimous Supreme Court victory for them. In fact, working in the Clinton SG’s office, Estrada represented the Clinton administration position before the Supreme Court on numerous occassions.

I love the way you agree with things no one has said. It’s so cute.


:smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

He worked in the Clinton administration, too, in the solicitor general’s office.

As in most cases in politics, the last act is the one that seals someone’s fate.

“Not one” != “hardly any.” Speaking of weaseling…which is it, december? And how many is Ari’s “hardly any,” because I’m thinking that it could be up to 43.

IIRC from another article, the number of Senators who requested private meetings with Estrada was about 3. Those Senators who are most vigorously attacking Estrada for his alleged unwillingness to answer questions, such as Schumer and Leahy, did not request meetings to try to clarify his views. Incidentally, the opportunity for private meetings is still available. Estrada would meet with any Senator who wanted to right now.

As the cite in the OP points out, not a single Senator took the opportunity to send Estrada written questions last week. However, I believe a few of them (between 1 and 3) did send him written questions after his testimony before the Judiciary Committee last year.