Jewish World Review Sept. 15, 2003 / 18 Elul, 5763
The soi-disant party of Latinos comes down hard on a successful Latino
Well, there goes one of my favorite jokes
to wit, insisting that Miguel Estrada is actually Japanese.
After waiting two and a half years for the Senate's Democrats to
allow a vote on his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District
of Columbia, Estrada has decided to become rich. Rather than hear such
paragons of balderdash as the Hon. Charles E. Schumer calumniate him as
politically extreme, Estrada withdrew his name from the Senate's butcher
Now, he will continue his extremely lucrative law practice at
one of Washington's most prestigious law firms. For over two years, he has
wondered if he would be able to afford a lovely country retreat in rural
Virginia, which he would like to refurbish. Now he knows that he can afford
the place and enjoy his weekends planting gardens, reading books and
watching the Hon. Schumer slander other Republicans on the weekend talk
shows for allowing the president to nominate them for public service.
The Hon. Schumer, having won the support in New York of some of
American politics' most exotic single-issue fanatics, now spends his time
blocking Republican judicial nominees by calling them
extremists. The fact of the matter is that compared to Estrada, the Hon.
Schumer is the aberrant one. Estrada, whom I have known for years, holds no
views outside the mainstream of American life. He is a perfectly normal
American. When a politician comes along and depicts such a normal person as
extreme, it is the name-calling politician who is the extremist, not the
Schumer and his bitter-end Democrats have adopted the novel idea
that a judicial nominee's "ideology" disqualifies the nominee, if that
ideology is not congenial with Schumer. Actually, if the federal government
is to have a working judiciary, ideology does not matter. What does matter
is that the nominees have integrity, knowledge of the law and the
understanding that judges apply law to cases. They do not make law.
By opposing Republican judicial nominees over the matter of
"ideology," the Democrats have politicized the courts. They have also broken
the rules hitherto followed in confirming a judicial appointment. Until
Schumer adopted his extremist position, a judicial nominee was confirmed or
rejected by a simple majority in the Senate. But with the nomination of
Estrada (and two remaining judicial nominations), the Democrats commenced a
historically unprecedented filibuster. As a consequence, 60 votes in the
Senate are necessary to confirm a filibustered nominee because 60 votes are
needed to end a filibuster.
Estrada is the first circuit or district judicial nominee ever
to be defeated by filibuster. Or put another way, he is the first nominee to
be forced to gain the support of 60 senators rather than a majority. He has
been investigated and grilled for over two years and nothing of substance
was discovered to disqualify his nomination. All that the Democrats could
discover is that Estrada has served with distinction in and out of
government. He served honorably in the Office of the Solicitor General
during the Clinton administration and in the Justice Department as a superb
prosecutor. Now he has left public service, and he is making a bundle.
The reason that a man of such normative views as Estrada has
been opposed by the Democrats is that they see themselves as the party of
the ethnic minorities. Estrada is a Latino. When I claimed he was a
Japanese-American, I was just trying to get a little rise out of his
Democratic tormentors. That the Republicans would raise him to one of the
highest courts in the country proves that Latinos are welcome in the
Republican Party, too. They do not have to be beholden to Democrats.
Moreover, Estrada is so manifestly qualified for the court that, were he
confirmed, he might very well be nominated by the Bush administration to the
Supreme Court. That would badly impair the Democrats' claim to be the party
of Latinos. Thus the soi-disant party of Latinos comes
down hard on a successful Latino.
The Senate Republicans are increasingly angered about the
Democrats' obstructionism. They are laying plans to thwart the Democrats'
unprincipled filibusters. Some are also considering plans to urge the White
House to nominate Estrada again a couple of years down the road, but this
time to a higher court, the Supreme Court.
By then, if the Democrats continue to play the role of the
bully, there will be even fewer of them in the Senate, and Estrada's Supreme
Court nomination will sail through. He will have his house in the country
and life-long employment in a job where he can wear a
comfortable loose-fitting robe rather than a three-piece suit.
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© 2001, Creators Syndicate