Leaked Memos Excerpts

Here are three telling excerpts from leaked memos produced by the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One explains why the Democrats thought Miguel Estrada, who has since withdrawn his nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was “dangerous.” Another explains why the nomination of Julia Gibbons for the 6th Circuit was delayed. The third helps to explain why Dennis Shedd was confirmed to the 4th Circuit, but only after the 2002 election.

November 2001 memo to Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.):

    “You missed a meeting with Senator Kennedy and representatives of various civil rights groups. . . . Second, yesterday’s meeting focused on identifying the most controversial and/or vulnerable judicial nominees, and a strategy for targeting them. . . . They also identified Miguel Estrada 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.”

April 2002 memo to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.):

    The NAACP “would like the [Judiciary] Committee to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominees until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided by the en banc 6th Circuit. . . . The thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, the new judge will be able. . .to review the case and vote on it. . . . We are also aware that the 6th Circuit is in dire need of additional judges. Nevertheless we recommend [6th Circuit Nominee Julia] Gibbons be rescheduled for a later hearing: the Michigan case is important.”

June 5, 2002 memo to Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.):

    [Bullet item on agenda for meeting with liberal groups including NARAL and People for the American Way:] “Their concerns with Dennis Shedd, a controversial 4th Circuit nominee from South Carolina. Under pressure from Senator Hollings–who apparently is backing Shedd because the trial lawyers want him off the district court bench–Chairman Leahy is planning to hold a hearing in late June. The groups would like more time to read through Shedd’s many unpublished opinions, which were only recently provided to the committee, and to request court transcripts.”