Two Words if the President Wants a Hispanic Supreme Court Nominee: Miguel Estrada
The reports that say President Obama is looking for a Hispanic Supreme Court nominee elicited a somber feeling of melancholy from me as a Hispanic. The reason is that political expediency seems to be the driving force behind the acknowledgment and recognition of a Hispanic nominee's contributions and accomplishments.
That much is clear when you remember the abuses committed by Democratic senators against Miguel Estrada, the first Hispanic nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As you'll recall, unable to block Estrada's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee and knowing he would be confirmed if a full Senate vote was allowed, Democrats used an unprecedented and unjust partisan filibuster to prevent a vote from ever taking place.
Looking at Estrada's impressive record, it was puzzling why Democrats opposed him so viciously. The liberal American Bar Association unanimously found him "well qualified;" he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and Judge Amalya Lyle Kearse of the Second Circuit; he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree from Columbia, received a juris doctor (J.D.) degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review - just like President Obama. Estrada had extensive legal experience serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, and he also served at the Department of Justice as an Assistant to the Solicitor General for the Clinton Administration.
His personal story was even more impressive, if you want to apply the President's ridiculous "empathy" standard. Estrada emigrated with his family from Honduras speaking very little English, yet he worked hard, learned English and achieved success. But the supposed party of "opportunity for all" and the "champions of minorities" ignored the impressive record and amazing story of this Hispanic, and did not even allow him to come for a vote.
Truth is Miguel Estrada's demise was due to the fact that he was nominated by President George W. Bush - nothing else. He was believed to be a conservative. Even a Democrat, Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, said at the time that Estrada was "the latest victim of Washington's partisan, obstructionist politics."
He was right. We know that for a fact.
Internal memos to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) discovered during that time gave us a clear picture of the Democrats' "concerns," and put in black and white the partisan politics at play when it comes to judicial nominations, especially with minority candidates. The memos "identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment" (emphasis mine).
The fact is, Democrats were pressured by outside groups from whom they routinely seek advice, including People for the American Way, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Alliance for Justice, to block Miguel Estrada's nomination "because he is a Latino" and that made him "especially dangerous" as a potential Supreme Court nominee.
That is why the news of this possible Hispanic Supreme Court nominee gives me that nauseating feeling you get after you eat too much.
If the President wants to honor Hispanics and their contributions to the American culture with the nomination of a well-qualified Hispanic to the Supreme Court, he should look no further than Miguel Estrada. That would leave no doubt that he is committed to what he has talked so much about: rising above partisan politics.
Perhaps that would even be the start of that "change" we've all been waiting for.
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