- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said yesterday she opposes the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Congressional Black Caucus said it is poised to do likewise.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on President Bush's nominee, who has received the highest rating from the American Bar Association and has the support of several Hispanic groups.
"We certainly are opposed to Miguel Estrada, like so many of our Hispanic colleagues," Mrs. Norton told reporters yesterday, during a break from the caucus's daylong legislative strategy and planning meeting for the new session.
Mrs. Norton a Democrat and the caucus's point person on judges said they "will do all we can to work with other members of Congress … to defeat" Mr. Estrada's nomination.
"We have taken no formal vote," said caucus Chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat. "However, I have talked to the chair of the Hispanic Caucus … and I anticipate that we will jointly come out against Estrada within the next few days."
Neither Mr. Cummings nor Mrs. Norton would give the reasoning behind the opposition until the caucus takes an official position.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund came out in opposition to Mr. Estrada yesterday.
Marisa J. Demeo, the group's D.C. regional counsel, said Mr. Estrada "comes with a predisposition to view claims of racial discrimination and unfair treatment with suspicion and doubt instead of with an open mind."
Mrs. Norton said that personally, she would support a Senate filibuster of Mr. Estrada's nomination. She said Senate Democrats cannot possibly filibuster every one of the president's judicial nominations, so senators want to know which ones the caucus thinks are "the worst of the worst." She said Mr. Estrada's nomination is "near the top of our list."
Mr. Estrada is part of a group of the president's judicial nominees who never received votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate last session and were renominated by the president earlier this month.
Several Hispanic groups support Mr. Estrada, including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Hispanic Business Roundtable.
"I am convinced that this first Hispanic member of the D.C. Circuit will continue to lead a distinguished career with thoughtful and fair decisions," Roundtable President Mario Rodriguez said in a July 2001 letter of support.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cummings said the caucus's overall legislative agenda for this Congress includes health care reform, fully funding education, protecting retirement security, guaranteeing that every vote will be counted during elections, creating more jobs, and approving federal judges who are committed to protecting civil rights.
"Ours is an American agenda," he said, adding that the caucus will work closely with House Democratic leaders and with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.

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