We the (Hispanic) People . . .
By HENRY BONILLA, LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART, MARIO DIAZ-BALART, DEVIN NUNES,
and ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
WASHINGTON -- The Democratic filibuster against federal
appellate court nominee Miguel Estrada has been nothing less than a
partisan assault on the goal of achieving diversity in our nation's
highest public institutions. Fewer than 4% of federal judges are Hispanic,
yet 44 Senate Democrats, who run on "diversity" platforms have so far
employed parliamentary procedures to thwart diversity and obstruct the
confirmation of an eminently well-qualified lawyer through the use of
double standards -- standards they never applied to other nominees.
These Democrats, who credit themselves with helping
advance minorities to high government positions, now prevent the first
Hispanic from serving on our nation's second highest court by blocking the
bipartisan majority that wants an honest up or down vote. The hypocrisy
hurts America's largest minority group and strikes at the core of the
One of the most offensive aspects of the opposition to
the nomination of Mr. Estrada is the notion put forth by some Hispanic
Democrats and leftist activist groups that he is "Hispanic in name only"
-- that because he is a mainstream lawyer, he doesn't represent the
Hispanic community. Are we truly willing to exclude our accomplished
minorities on the grounds that they have not pigeonholed their careers by
focusing on one racial community? The suggestion jeopardizes the future of
other qualified Hispanics because of unacceptable ideological bars. But
apparently Democrats believe that they alone should get to decide what a
"Hispanic" should be.
We wish Mr. Estrada's plight were a novelty, but we are
concerned that it is just one manifestation of a pervasive and troubling
trend whereby the advancement of minorities is only applauded when it
reinforces liberal politics. To counter this trend and to allow for the
positive advancement of Hispanics in the U.S., the Hispanic Republican
members of Congress are announcing with this article the formation of the
Congressional Hispanic Conference.
The new Hispanic Conference will promote policy outcomes
that serve the best interests of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese
descent and thereby all Americans. In this endeavor we are pledged to
place principle above partisanship on issues directly affecting the
betterment of the Hispanic and Portuguese communities. A key goal of the
Hispanic Conference is to promote principles that are of real importance
to Hispanics and Portuguese in the U.S. These include the Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas, the emerging common market of this hemisphere's
democracies; tax relief to American families by eliminating the death tax
and marriage penalty and bringing relief to more than two million
Hispanic-owned small businesses; the support of faith-based initiatives;
and educational choice for all.
In the case of judicial nominees, the Hispanic Conference
is committed to ensuring that only the best qualified nominees are
appointed to our federal courts.
As we enter another week of extra-constitutional
procedural tactics aimed at blocking Mr. Estrada's confirmation, it is
clear to us that there is a significant need for the formation of the new
Hispanic Conference. We support the nomination of Mr. Estrada, not only
because his superb credentials make him an ideal appointee, but also
because -- for so many of us who are the sons and daughters of immigrants
-- Mr. Estrada's story represents the American promise.
To block his confirmation is not only a dangerous
constitutional precedent, but also one whose impact could forever alter
that promise -- that there is no limit to the possibility of success in
America. We must not put a ceiling on the American dream, and so we join
our voices as the new Congressional Hispanic Conference. We can think of
no more appropriate first act than to champion Mr. Estrada's confirmation
and to defend the reason we all came here.
The authors are members of the U.S. Congress.