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Delay on Estrada: Democratic debacle

A Boston Herald editorial
Friday, February 14, 2003

With war on the horizon and the nation taking seriously a level Orange terrorism
alert, you'd think Senate Democrats might have better things to do than play
obstructionist games with a nominee to an important federal appellate court.

But sometimes Democrats just can't help themselves.

The man who's got those Senate Democrats in such a tizzy is Miguel Estrada,
Harvard Law grad and assistant to the solicitor general of the United States
under both Presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. Estrada, if confirmed,
would be the first Hispanic-American to serve on the federal appeals court for
the D.C. circuit. And apparently what truly scares the living daylights out of
Senate Democrats is that such a high-profile judgeship would surely put him in
line to become the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

And so in a display of virtually unparalleled partisanship, Senate Democrats
have raised one specious issue after another. Former New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani, a huge Estrada fan, wrote eloquently on these pages Tuesday in support
of his nomination, putting down one phony Democratic excuse after another for
blocking the nomination.

The latest one has to do with the White House's refusal to release memos and
documents written by Estrada during his tenure in the solicitor general's
office. Now all of the living former solicitors general - four Democrats and
three Republicans - happen to agree with the White House position. There is such
a thing as attorney-client privilege, even for the solicitor general.

But that's not enough to satisfy Massachusetts' own Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who
said, ``The Senate cannot look the other way and rubber stamp a nominee like Mr.
Estrada to such an important court, when we know so little about him, when what
we do know about him raises so many serious questions.''

Rubber stamp? The Estrada nomination has been before the Senate for 21 months.
If Kennedy and his pals haven't been able to turn up anything to disqualify
Estrada in that time, they just aren't going to.

It's time they ended this mindless opposition, before it becomes even more of an

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