Should Democratic Senators Filibuster the Estrada Nomination?

This article says that they plan to do so.

Speaking as a Republican, I sure hope the Democrats follow through. They could hardly choose a worse battle line. There has never been a filibuster of a judicial nominee below the Supreme Court level. Estrada is extremely well qualified – editor of Harvard Law Review, argued 15 cases before the SCOTUS, unanimous top rating from ABA. He has no identified weakness. Democratic attacks on Estrada can only help the Republican Party attract Hispanics, who now constitute the largest minority group in the US.

Yes indeed, Senator Schumer. Bring on the filibuster. :cool:

Qualified? Only in some alternate reality where Ann Coulter is sane. The man has never been a judge. What possible reason could there be to jump him straight to the appeals court over loads of more qualified candidates?

Answer: He’s a stealth wing-nut. Since he has no published writings or decisions that would prove he’s a wing-nut, the republicans are hoping that they can get him onto the court as a cypher.

The Dems should filibuster ANY candidate who refuses to be forthcoming about his position on abortion and civil rights in testimony to the senate. Which is exactly what Estrada did.

Anyone who ducks the questions can be assumed to be a wing-nut because those with with mainstream positions on these issues can only have their case for confirmation improved by telling the truth. Estrada ducked, thereby proving that he’s a wing nut.

As for which nominations to filibuster. Why should they have to choose? Political capital is something that grows when it’s used successfully and shrinks when hoarded for the future. If they successfully fillibuster the nomination, then the next time it will be even easier.

When the RNC puts out spin ahead of time about how they ‘hope’ that the dems will do something, count on it being one of the things that they fear.

'Bout time they decided to show some balls on Bush’s ultra-con judicial picks. Avast, ye scurvy 'Pubbies, prepare for battle!


As a Hispanic, the Democrats WILL get my vote if they oppose his nomination, you see december, he has never been a judge, and there are indeed Latino judges with more experience; this nomination reeks of partisanship and it is disturbing to me that experienced judges are being skipped to choose him. Without a mandate, it is even insulting that more moderated Hispanics are being ignored.


While I see your point, I think the nation will be focussed on the war in Iraq (which will begin before the end of March) and this news item will go largely unnoticed. Correct me if I’m off on the timeframe for this potential filibuster.

The bigger story will be when Bush gets to nominate 2 retiring Supreme Court Justices before he leaves office. I forget which 2 (O’Conner and someone else, I think).

OOps. Should have said “replace 2 retiring” instead of “nominate 2 retiring”

Judge Richard Paez, a Clinton appointee, had to wait 1,520 days, more than four years, before his nomination was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto-Rican American, was originally named to the U.S. District Court by President H. W. Bush, and nominated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton. Her confirmation took over 14 months to complete.

Other Clinton nominees like Jorge Rangel and Enrique Moreno to the Fifth Circuit, Christine Arguello to the Tenth Circuit, and Richard Morado to the Southern Texas District Court along with Anabelle Rodriguez of Puerto Rico and Sam Paz of California were never confirmed!

During Bush’s presidency, the Democratic controlled Senate confirmed Judge Christina Armijo, to the District Court in New Mexico, Judge Philip Martinez, District Court for the Western District of Texas, Judge Randy Crane, District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and Judge Jose Martinez, District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

I can assure you that it will take a little more than Republican salivating for Miguel Estrada to attract Hispanics to the Republican Party.

Just let me mention that North Carolina will actually have a judge on the Circuit that includes this state for the first time in about twice as long as I’ve been a resident here. The problem was not in finding a qualified judge; the President nominated several. But a certain now-thankfully-retired Senator from this state blocked the nominations.

If the Republicans try to make any political capital out of Democratic opposition to a nominee with no experience and questionable nominations, they are guilty of extreme hypocrisy, given that they acquiesced in Helms’ one-man effective curtailment of appeals-court justice in the Southeast.

Since when has prior experience as a judge been terribly important for an appeals court nomination?

The current Supreme Court:

William Rehnquist, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1971; named Chief Justice, 1986.

Antonin Scalia, no prior judicial experience before joining the D.C. Circuit in 1982; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1986.

John Paul Stevens, no prior judicial experience before joining the 7th Circuit in 1970; appointed to US Supreme Court as Chief Justice, 1975.

Anthony Kennedy, no prior judicial experience before joining the 9th Circuit in 1976; appointed to US Supreme Court as Chief Justice, 1988.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, no prior judicial experience before joining the D.C. Circuit in 1980; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1993.

Clarence Thomas, no prior judicial experience before joining the D.C. Circuit in 1990; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1991.

Stephen Breyer, no prior judicial experience before joining the 1st Circuit in 1980; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1994.

(Sandra Day O’Conner and David Souter each had prior judicial experience in the state trial and appellate courts of Arizona and New Hampshire, respectfully).

And some notable prior US Supreme Court Justices:

Thurgood Marshall, no prior judicial experience before joining the 2nd Circuit in 1964; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1967.

Lewis Powell, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1971.

Tom Clark, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1949. (Justice Clark holds a special place in my heart as we share the same law school alma mater).

Byron White, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1962.

Abe Fortas, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1949.

Harry Blackmun, no prior judicial experience before joining the 8th Circuit in 1959; appointed to US Supreme Court, 1970.

Felix Frankfurter, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1939.

Louis Brandeis, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1916.

William O. Douglas, no prior judicial experience before appointment to US Supreme Court, 1939.

Warren Burger, no prior judicial experience before joining the D.C. Circuit in 1955; appointed to US Supreme Court as Chief Justice, 1969.

If you want to argue that the failure to answer certain questions means the Senate lacks enough information to approve Estrada, then fine. But spare us this “he was never a judge” nonsense.

Whoops! Strike the “as Chief Justice” from Justice Kennedy and Stevens!

FTR, I completely agree with Dewey on that point. Although I geneally prefer judicial experience for an appeals court nominee, it is by no means a prerequisite. I oppose Estrada for the most high-minded of reasons: his politics.

(Which is, of course, the same reason Bush and his handlers saw fit to nominate Estrada.)

I couldn’t find the cite, but I heard Orrin Hatch on TV pointing out that quite a few Democratic appointments to that very Washington D.C. appeals court had no prior judicial experience. That dog won’t hunt. (On preview, I see DCU has blown this issue away. Thanks.)

Yes, Estrada did this, but what Democratic nominee was forthcoming about their positions on these matters?

Another non-hunting dog. After the examples of Bork, Thomas, et. al, it’s obvious that the Democrats were looking for a way to attack him, whether fair or foul. Someone smart enough to edit Harvard Law Review in his 2nd language is certainly smart enough not to offer weapons to a group of assassins. The liberal Washington Post editorialized today

I agree. That’s why I’ll be so happy if Estrada is their maiden effort.

Did the RNC put out such spin? Do you have a cite?

GIGObuster, although the Republicans will not get your vote, they are looking toward increasing their share of the Hispanic vote.

In fact, this poll result says that Republicans may be close to pulling even, with the help of Bush.

I don’t think the point is his lack of judicial experience. The point is this is coupled with other disquieting facts like the lack of any paper trail and all the evidence (the lack of experience being one aspect) that he was nominated precisely because of his extreme conservative beliefs…in which case the Democrats are justified in fighting his nomination because of these beliefs.

I think the basic understanding of this advise and consent thing is that Presidents are allowed to choose candidates with leanings in the direction of their ideology without the Senate complaining…but extremists are fair game. And, it didn’t take very extreme views on the Left to zap Clinton nominees. In fact, Clinton tended to go for quite moderate candidates.

Interesting that you should mention Thomas. That is one man who likely perjured himself before the Senate. (And, I’m not talking here about the whole harassment thing but rather about the substantive questions such as whether he had ever thought or talked about Roe v Wade. As subsequent evidence has shown, it certainly didn’t take long for Thomas to go from never having even thought about these issues to being right in the conservative extremist position on them!)

I think you are a little behind the times, december. The Post may have been liberal 20 years ago…when Bob Woodward wasn’t fawning over the President…but it is more like centrist today as I understand it.

Since at least some (if not many) Hispanic organizations have come out against this nominee, I don’t see why there would be any big hispanic backlash. I think most Hispanics are intelligent enough that they would not blindly support someone just because they are hispanic if they feel that his views as a whole will be detrimental to the nation and perhaps to many Hispanics in particular. (I don’t think that Blacks for the most part are huge fans of Clarence Thomas.)

Let me try this, then, december and others:

The Senate is required to advise and consent on these appointments. Presumably they should do this with a good concept of both the character of the nominee and his likely stance and actions when entering into the office to which he was nominated – which would in this case imply a federal judgeship.

For prospective judges, there are three ways to assess their competence: opinions they’ve written; law articles they’ve written; and testimony which is forthcoming on their jurisprudential philosophy. (Sandra Day O’Connor, to give an example, should and IIRC did refuse to state her opinion on an issue such as abortion likely to come before her; but that she is deeply respectful of stare decisis and disinclined to overturn previous decisions has been a major factor in court decisions during her tenure.) Arguing cases before SCOTUS, in which one is required to take an adversarial stance in favor of one’s client’s views, cannot be compared to the dispassionate judgment of the entire applicable law that is required of a justice (or of a properly-written law review article). It is also reasonable, as guides to a judgment of his character and political philosophy, to identify what organizations he belongs to.

In the Pit thread december started on the Estrada nomination, CRorex pointed out, “He doesn’t have an significant history of publications on legal topics.” December pooh-poohed this on the grounds that he was not running for political office – but where precisely does one identify the political philosophy of a non-judge who refuses to give informative answers to questions on his philosophy, if not in his publications? (Note: I was unable to locate a list of Estrada’s publications; does anyone have a link to one?)

(Note that Kennedy and Douglas, non-judges nominated for SCOTUS seats, both had an extensive reputation on the basis of their writings on the law, and Blackmun was considered among the leading experts on medical ethics and its interface with the law from his practice as counsel to the Mayo Clinic before his nomination.)

Bottom line, December: You have a candidate nominated by the President, ranked as highly qualified by ABA (I assume that’s an accurate translation of “top qualification”), editor of a prestigious law school journal, graduate of that prestigious law school – but who has never judged a case, apparently has few if any papers, and declines to make any statements about his views on the law.

How in the world would I as a Senator be able to form an opinion of the man’s competence? Trust Bush not to sell me a pig in a poke? Rely on the ABA? Make my decision completely on his being a graduate of Harvard Law? I would not be doing justice to my oath as Senator to grant approval to him based on what little I know at the moment. And, sir, I would give that same view in the same hypothetical setup if it were a theoretical liberal nominee in 1999 – because I asked myself that as a check against “am I misjudging him because Bush and december are for him?”

He may be the John Marshall or Hugo Black of the 21st Century. But you couldn’t prove it by me. And in the absence of reason to support, I’m opposed – too often, on both sides of the party line, marginally competent hacks have been given high decision-making jobs because they could muster support when it was needed. I would not be party to another one – and if I do Mr. Estrada an injustice in holding that view, he has only his own reticence to thank for my feeling that way.

Here are various links on the FAIR website to give a true liberal perspective on the Washington Post.

Like Polycarp and Jshore said. Incidentally december, I checked those links that you used to reply to me and they also have bad news for the republicans. The main point in your links is that the republicans need to reach to minorities to win in the future, doing stunts like nominating this guy actually sounds like reaching to the minority (conservative) of the minority (Hispanic).

Sounds to me that republicans believe that Hispanics are not smart enough to see the difference, that alone is not the way to reach minorities.

There are Hispanics that do notice.

The few who even got hearings in Lott’s Senate did, AFAIK. Do you know any different?

It’s good to see you’ve come off that asinine lie in the Pit that he’s opposed for being “too competent”. It’s not good to see that you still think tokenism is acceptable if your guys do it - this is pretty transparent to those who you would like to be convinced by it, and otherwise is a racial quota - filling the Hispanic seat, so to speak.

i’m a non-partisan liberal. but still, I find it hilarious that this is happening to the Republicans: what goes around, comes around.

So, december how would you feel about Estrada if you knew that he lied under oath in his confirmation hearing?