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Volume 68, Issue 105, Thursday, February 27, 2003


Staff Editorial


Matthew Dulin         Geronimo Rodriguez        Shaun Salnave          Cara Sarelli

Just be honest

Miguel Estrada, President Bush's controversial Republican nominee to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, continually dodges the Senate's questions regarding his judicial ideology. 

The White House says Democrats are asking questions that other nominees have never been forced to answer, and Bush suggests that it is "scrutiny" that the Senate should request to view Estrada's memos from when he worked at the Justice Department.

It is generally frowned upon for a judge to publicly express his personal views on issues, but many Democrats, concerned about his extremely right-wing views, are questioning whether Estrada would be capable of keeping his personal beliefs separate from his interpretation of the law. They are holding a filibuster to postpone the voting process until the Senate gets answers. Bush says the Democrats are blocking the vote because of political issues and that he will stand by Estrada until the nominee's appointment is confirmed.

But what's disconcerting is the way GOP top dogs are focusing on the recruitment of Hispanic leaders to help force the voting process to confirm Estrada's nomination, turning what should be a weighing and measurement of judicial ethics into a politicized ethnic issue. 

They suggest that he will protect the rights of Latinos through his work. But, oddly enough, while Republicans are looking to Hispanics for support, nationally recognized organizations such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund strongly oppose his nomination, as do the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Organization for Women.

Instead of focusing on Estrada's ethnicity as a foundation for his qualifications, the Senate needs to take into consideration his inability to cooperate and be forthcoming with his legal philosophy. 

A mockery is being made of the "advise and consent" function of the Senate in confirming presidential nominees. How can the Senate effectively determine Estrada's judicial ideology and establish a clear understanding of his viewpoints if he refuses to allow them insight into his legal mentality? 

He is not ready to effectively represent or ultimately decide the good of the American nation, especially while he continues to keeps his mouth shut in the face of Congress. 

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