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Washington State Senator Cantwell is among those supporting a filibuster. Senator Murray has taken no position.

The Wall Street Journal  

February 6, 2003

FROM THE ARCHIVES: February 6, 2003 

The Estrada Filibuster

Miguel Estrada's appeals-court nomination finally made it to the Senate floor yesterday, where Democrats are debating whether to filibuster the prominent Hispanic lawyer.

President Bush's nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently passed the Judiciary Committee, and in the normal course of things would get a simple up or down majority vote. He easily has more than the 50 votes needed for confirmation. But some Democrats want to raise the bar to 60 votes, an extraordinary move that means that 41 liberals could abuse what the Constitution says is the "advice and consent" power of the entire Senate. Filibusters against judges are almost unheard of, the practice of such liberal heroes as Strom Thurmond.


Of course Democrats aren't announcing their intentions, lest Univision and the rest of the media report this to the country. They'd like nothing better than to intimidate Republicans into giving up on Mr. Estrada without forcing a floor vote, or a long debate. That way they can demonstrate their power to kill Mr. Bush's nominees even though they are now in the minority.

We hope Republicans don't let them get away with it. The truth is that Democrats have no reason to oppose Mr. Estrada other than the fact that he is a conservative who also happens to be Hispanic. They have nothing else against him. The Washington Post, no conservative redoubt, calls him "well-qualified for the bench," as does the American Bar Association. He is a Honduran immigrant who made his way to Harvard and a distinguished career by dint of hard work. But Democrats are petrified that Mr. Estrada might be future Supreme Court material, so they want to kill him now before he can get the appeals-court credential.

If Democrats want to filibuster, Republicans should keep the debate going, for weeks if need be. Put Mr. Estrada on the talk shows, and have Mr. Bush go on Univision to talk about the Senate tactics. Democrats who refuse even to give Mr. Estrada a confirmation vote should be made to pay a political price. If Republicans let Democrats get away with this abuse of the system now, it will happen again and again.

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Updated February 6, 2003

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