Newspapers Nationwide Criticize Treatment of Estrada

One week has passed since Miguel Estrada asked the White House to withdraw his name as a nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats did not have enough votes to defeat his nomination, and Republicans didn’t have enough votes to force them to try. So he was left “twisting in the wind.” For more than two years he was the subject of Leftist attacks, and he finally decided he had had enough.

Over the past week, Republicans rightfully lamented the treatment of his nomination. But they are not the only voices out there — the editorial boards of dozens of newspapers across the country chimed in as well. What follows are excerpts from editorials of some of those papers which have appeared since Estrada’s withdrawal.

“Victory for a Smear”

Mr. Estrada’s case will be cited as a critical precedent: A nominee of substance and quality can be filibustered until he quits in frustration because he refuses to answer detailed questions about his views of specific cases and because the administration refuses to turn over his confidential attorney work product for political scrutiny by the Senate. Who exactly will have the credibility to demand fair treatment for that next qualified nominee?

–Washington Post, 9/5/03

“Estrada Tosses Towel; Pyrrhic Win for Dems”

The 41-year-old Honduran immigrant, who led his law class at Harvard, was a vastly better choice for the judiciary than any number of Democrats who slid onto the federal bench during the early Clinton presidency.

Now, with a GOP president and a bare Republican majority in the Senate, the Dems still are able to stymie the appointment of conservative judges reflecting the apparent wishes of the American electorate: There are too few Republican senators — or principled Democratic ones — to apply cloture to threatened filibusters over the confirmation of Estrada and other qualified appointees.

–Santa Fe New Mexican, 9/5/03

“Assuming Command”

Miguel Estrada’s request to have his court nomination withdrawn has been granted. His opponents’ shameful behavior has won.

Estrada’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President Bush was obstructed for more than two years by Senate Democrats who in July abused that chamber’s filibuster rule to block a vote.

[. . .] This case shows that no matter who has the majority in Congress or who’s in the White House, the street-fighting Democrats are still in command of the federal judicial system.

Maybe they know something the politically pacifist Republicans don’t: Controlling the judiciary is a powerful tool for forcing your political agenda on people.

Investor’s Business Daily, 9/5/03

“Miguel Estrada Deserved a Vote”

Mr. Estrada deserved to have a full Senate vote on his nomination. He may be too conservative for the minority party, but the opposition never demonstrated that he was unfit to serve. There is nothing on his record — no conflict of interest, for example — that would disqualify him. In fact, U.S. solicitors general of both parties had high praise for him when he worked in that federal office, calling him “brilliant.”

–Hartford Courant, 9/5/03

“Estrada Withdrawal Reveals Flawed Senate Process”

Miguel Estrada is a well-regarded attorney who served in the Justice Department under the first President Bush and as an assistant U.S. solicitor general under President Clinton. He argued 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

But because Senate Democrats were afraid that as a Hispanic he could be a potent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, they filibustered his nomination.

–Detroit News, 9/5/03

“Estrada Read Handwriting on the Wall”

Senate Democrats were so determined to keep the Honduran-born and Harvard-educated nominee off the federal bench that they staged the first filibuster of an appellate court nominee in the history of the institution.

[. . .]Mr. Estrada should have been confirmed. In fact, he was as qualified as a dozen other judicial nominees who were eventually confirmed.

–Dallas Morning News, 9/5/03

“Senate Should Quit Playing Games with Judicial Nominees”

Judicial selection on a federal level has become an unseemly series of litmus tests that does nothing to advance the quality of people who would interpret the nation’s laws. There’s plenty of blame to go around for that, but fixing blame doesn’t fix problems. The Senate can do that by giving the president a clear “yes” or “no” on nominees.

[. . .]After the Estrada withdrawal, it will be difficult to argue with success. You don’t have to have honor to enjoy success, but on matters as important as picking judges, an honorable process promotes public confidence. Nothing in the way the Estrada nomination was handled could be construed as honorable.

–Austin American-Statesman, 9/5/03

“Nobles and Knaves”

For suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with princely dignity, Mr. Estrada is the noble of the week.

–Washington Times, 9/6/03

“Estrada Loss Bad Politics”

Two years is a long time to be kept in limbo. But a filibuster that thwarted the will of a majority of the Senate to even vote on President Bush’s nominee is political bad business.

Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), 9/6/03

“Truce Needed in This War”

The saga of Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ended more or less the way it began — with Republicans and Democrats shouting charges at one another.

–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/6/03

“This Was No Way To Treat a Nominee”

In an abuse of the system, Estrada was never allowed an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. By threatening a filibuster, Senate Democrats were able to effectively veto the nomination for more than two years.

[. . .]In fact, Estrada is so well qualified that he was seen as a possible future Supreme Court nominee. That fact, combined with his ethnic heritage, made him a target for Senate Democrats, who feared the political implications if Bush became the first president to nominate a Hispanic to the high court.

–Indianapolis Star, 9/6/03

“Derailing Justice”

Typically, the U.S. Senate Democrats who derailed confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals see it as a narrow, partisan victory rather than what it really was — a stinging defeat for the court system and their own constituents.

For reasons that have little to do with justice and everything to do with partisan politics, Democrats kept blocking Estrada’s confirmation until he felt compelled to withdraw from consideration.

–El Paso Times, 9/6/03

“Estrada Battle a Shameful Episode”

Rarely has there been as ugly, as partisan and as utterly shameful an episode in the U.S. Senate, as the two-year battle over the federal appeals court nomination of Miguel Estrada.

[. . .]Oh, it should serve as a wake-up call all right. It should serve as a wake-up call to the GOP to increase its strength in the Senate or risk continued bullying at the hands of Kennedy. And it should surely serve as a wake-up call to the Hispanic community, which ought to be properly outraged at this denial of opportunity to a man who could have made history.

–Boston Herald, 9/6/03

“Miguel Estrada Leaves the Field”

He had unassailable credentials. A majority of the Senate thought so, including a number of Democrats.

But those catering to the extreme Democratic left, led by the odious Sen. Patrick Leahy, found him wanting.

–Tampa Tribune, 9/7/03

“Fault Both Sides in Estrada Fiasco”

His confirmation to the Appeals Court in the District of Columbia would have put him on track to become the first Hispanic on the high court. That would seem a goal Senate Democrats could get behind.

Except for the taint of conservatism.

–Reno Gazette-Journal, 9/7/03

“Squandering Miguel Estrada”

Last week, though, Democratic senators who are slavishly devoted to a clutch of liberal interest groups succeeded in driving away a superb nominee, Miguel Estrada, a brilliant lawyer and native of Honduras who would have been the first Hispanic jurist on the most important appellate court in the country, the one based in Washington, D.C.

[. . .]With their fundamentally unjust treatment of a good man, Senate Democrats have handed Republican candidates, from the White House down, an excellent issue for voters to consider during the 2004 election cycle.

–Chicago Tribune, 9/7/03

“Battling Over Judges”

With the withdrawal of Miguel Estrada from consideration for the U.S. Court of Appeals, the running battle over the federal judicial nominees took another turn for the worse.

[. . .]Senate Democrats may have won this time, but such battles will be fought again and again. The ultimate loser in these struggles will be the quality of the federal courts and the people they are supposed to serve.

–Winston-Salem Journal, 9/8/03

“Adios, Estrada; Petty Politics Claims Another Victim”

Democratic senators, though they number only 48, last week wrecked the nomination of a qualified attorney for the federal bench, Miguel Estrada, who resigned in the midst of a purely partisan filibuster of his nomination.

Union Leader (Manchester, NH), 9/8/03

“Fix Flawed Process Fast”

Estrada’s story began as the American dream. Born in Honduras, he came to America as a teen, and through diligence, hard work and brainpower, graduated from one of the nation’s best law schools and went on to other prestigious jobs. The confirmation process has now turned that dream into a political nightmare. For shame.

Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), 9/8/03

“Battle Over Judges; With Estrada Out, Senate Must End Turmoil”

The battle between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate over President Bush’s judicial nominees may be the stuff of interesting politics. But while this continuing controversy makes for a potentially potent campaign issue, it makes for bad government. After last week’s withdrawal of Miguel Estrada for consideration to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, antagonism in the Senate is only likely to grow.

–San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/8/03

“Torpedoing Estrada”

As for Estrada himself, those two surveyors of America’s political mainstream, Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles Schumer of New York, rushed to microphones to proclaim they had scored victories for the Constitution, the judicial system and the people by forcing his withdrawal.

Nonsense. They had, rather, denigrated all three by demanding that Estrada state his positions on politically sensitive questions (read: abortion) and give up confidential legal documents he wrote as an assistant to the solicitor general. Rightly, he refused.

–Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/8/03

“A New and Low Level”

Senate Democrats — stretching the ‘advise and consent’ clause of the Constitution to the breaking point — have successfully torpedoed the judicial nomination of Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada to a federal appeals court.

–Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/8/03

“Good Legal Mind, Wrong Ideology”

Contrary to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s shameful bombast last week, Miguel Estrada’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was not a victory for the American people. The fact that an immensely qualified jurist became a casualty in a bitter ideological and political war is certainly no reason for the American people to celebrate.

Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.), 9/8/03

“Estrada Defeat Is Deplorable”

In the wake of Miguel Estrada’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration for the U.S. Court of Appeals, a lot of people on the left have been crowing and threatening the Bush administration. Stop sending us judicial nominees who are “outside the mainstream,” they said again and again last week.

But the only issue that seemed to interest Senate Democrats while filibustering Estrada’s nomination was abortion.

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 9/8/03

“Senate Confirmation Process Has Been Hijacked, To the Detriment of All”

Estrada’s nomination was derailed by a Democratic minority because he failed to pass their ideological litmus test, designed to weed out conservatives and abortion foes.

After enduring two years of questioning and delay, Estrada had had enough. Who can blame him?

–Columbus Dispatch, 9/11/03