- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

For the first time in the history of the United States, a filibuster has been used to block a judicial nominee, and it was used against a brilliant, well-qualified, young Hispanic. History will not forget this infamy.

Understandably, after two years of Senate limbo, Miguel Estrada withdrew his name as a judicial nominee because he decided he and his family had suffered enough and needed to move forward with their lives. His withdrawal brings shame and disgrace to the judicial nomination process. This was not only a personal loss for Mr. Estrada; it was a loss for Hispanics, the judiciary, and the constitutional process the Senate is charged to protect.

Senate Democrats immediately declared this a victory. Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, went so far as to call Estrada’s withdrawal a “victory for the Constitution.” It may be a victory for obstructionist tactics, or a victory at placing a glass ceiling on the success of a worthy Hispanic, but it most certainly is not a victory for the Constitution.

This nomination was hijacked by left-wing ideologues, who have not only given themselves extraconstitutional powers but have made themselves the judge and jury responsible for determining who is Hispanic and who is not. Democrats have now put race up for interpretation, as if race were a sliding color scale. They have done the same with the Constitution, trying to relegate it to a sliding scale of partisan guesswork, too.

Democrats epitomized hyp-ocrisy throughout this nomination. They claimed Mr. Estrada was Hispanic “in name only,” despite the fact he immigrated from Honduras at age 17, barely able to speak a word of English. Then they claimed he was unqualified, despite the fact he received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, which Democrats have touted as the “Gold Standard.” They claimed Mr. Estrada was not supported by the Hispanic community even though many Hispanic organizations — including the League of United Latin American Citizens, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Hispanic Bar Association, Hispanic Business Roundtable, and Latino Coalition — expressed their support. They claim to promote diversity and take credit for helping minorities advance, but they never budged in their resolve to prevent the first Hispanic from serving on the nation’s second-highest court.

Democrats have shown they do not care about the advancement of Hispanics, but rather only with the advancement of Democrats who happen to be Hispanic. Democrats evidently are intolerant of any other Hispanic, no matter how well-qualified that person may be.

They chose to vilify a good, well-qualified nominee because he wasn’t the “right” kind of Hispanic. In other words, he didn’t agree with their liberal, partisan agenda, so Mr. Estrada had to go. By associating ideology with race, they are setting a very dangerous precedent.

America has always been about equal opportunity. Yet this travesty strikes at the core of our American values. The belief has always been if you worked hard, you could achieve anything you wanted no matter who you were. Democrats have forever changed that core American value. How dare they then claim to uphold American ideals.

Here we had a Hispanic immigrant, who did everything ever asked of him and demonstrated great ability and achievement, only to have his dreams crushed by politically minded partisans. The poem inside the Statue of Liberty reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Nowhere does it add “and as long as they vote extremist left-wing, they’ll have a chance to succeed.”

The ramifications of this obstruction may not truly be felt for years. How many young Hispanics now will think twice about pursuing judgeships? What repercussions does this have on the many immigrants in pursuit of the American Dream? Furthermore, how weakened is our Constitution after partisan politicians have trampled upon it for over two years?

Democrats have hijacked race, the Constitution and the judiciary for partisan gain.

They have sent the message to bright, young Americans that partisanship and bias are more important than fairness and a job well done. That is no victory. It is a tragedy.

Mario Diaz-Balart is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida.

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