- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

Supporters of appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada say Democratic demands on him would break the American Bar Association's Code of Judicial Conduct.
Senate Democrats have staged a de facto filibuster against Mr. Estrada's nomination to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
While some Democrats, such as Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, make no secret that their opposition is ideological he has called Mr. Estrada an "extreme" conservative others insist Mr. Estrada must answer their questions about his thoughts on law.
At a press conference yesterday sponsored by Hispanic and Republican activists, Michael Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association, presented a section of the ABA's rules on judicial conduct that states: "A candidate for judicial office shall not make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office [or] make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court."
Mr. Thielen said Democrats who have long considered the blessing of the ABA "the gold standard" for nominees can't now insist Mr. Estrada break its covenants.
"It is inappropriate for the Democrat senators to block Mr. Estrada's nomination on this basis," he said. "Mr. Estrada has provided ample information to the Senate for it to make a decision. Senate Democrats should permit an up-or-down vote on the nomination without further delay."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has insisted that Mr. Estrada release internal memos he wrote while serving as an assistant solicitor general in the prior Bush and Clinton administrations.
Every living former solicitor general has signed a letter opposing such a request, saying it would hurt the office by discouraging the kind of candor from staff needed by solicitors general.
C. Boyden Gray, president of the Committee for Justice, a nonprofit group devoted to defending and promoting President Bush's judicial nominees, said yesterday that despite Democratic claims to the contrary, Mr. Estrada has indeed left a lengthy paper trail from his 15 arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It is apparent that the Democrats have not read this," Mr. Gray said, pointing to a stack of papers. "They are evidently not interested. I think it's good reading, but I'm a lawyer."
Mr. Gray said asking for internal memos is like asking to see the first draft of a judge's decision.
"The final product is what counts," he said.
Leaders of some of the 70 organizations that support Mr. Estrada's nomination including some of the largest Hispanic advocacy groups also spoke yesterday.
Robert de Posada of the Latino Coalition said his group is concerned that Hispanics make up just 4 percent of the federal judiciary. Of the pool of Hispanic candidates, he said, the Honduran-born Mr. Estrada "is at the top of the top."
"If he doesn't make it, who can come behind him?" Mr. de Posada asked.
Brigida Benitez, president of the D.C. Hispanic Bar Association, was asked about the charges made by Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, that Mr. Estrada doesn't understand the issues important to the Hispanic community.
"The assumption is that there is a way a Hispanic must think," Mrs. Benitez said. "To suggest all Hispanics have to think the same way on an issue is something I have to dispute."


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