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.