The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, February 05, 2003  

What are Miguel Estrada and the Bush Administration Hiding?

It’s become painfully obvious that the Bush administration couldn’t care less whether its latest ethnicity-driven choice for the federal courts is or is not the best of all available candidates for the seat.

Also painfully clear is that the Senate’s Republican members know and care nothing about the principles of “advise and consent.”

And so the right wing’s mindless effort to confirm the thoroughly ordinary and unremarkable Miguel Estrada for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia continues unabated.

You know, in the unlikely event that I were to receive such a nomination -- and I won’t since I’m not nor have I ever been a lawyer, a judge, or a legal scholar (two out of three attributes I share with the aforementioned Estrada) -- I would hope that my supporters in government and the media would shout my qualifications from the rooftops.

I suspect Estrada’s hopes are the same. Unfortunately for him, no one is doing so, perhaps because Estrada’s resumé is so damned thin and because when asked about his opinions on the major judicial issues of the day Estrada pretends not only to be unable to speak English but to be unable to speak at all. (I mean, really, does anyone truly believe that English was not spoken at all in the wealthy Estrada family household, even while they lived in Honduras? Give me a break!)

Here’s a quick round-up of lame endorsements of Estrada’s qualifications offered by even the most the rabid and psychotic of his friends and supporters:

Ann Coulter in May said her friend Estrada -- though the friendship is nowhere mentioned in the article -- is qualified because he has argued 15 cases before the Supreme Court and because he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Doug Bandow in June complained of the lack of action on the Estrada nomination but offered no arguments in his favor, instead pulling together a string of quotes from Democratic lawmakers.

Byron York in June came up with this: “Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, a five-year stay [sic] in the Justice Department’s Office of Solicitor General, and, since 1997, private practice in Washington, during which time Estrada has argued 15 cases before the Supreme Court.”

Bill Murchison in July offered nothing.

John H. Fund -- Yes, I know, the irony is rich! -- in July called Estrada “eminently qualified,” but offered nothing in support of that contention.

Terry Eastland in September mustered up only that Estrada is an “excellent nominee[] who [has] gone without a hearing.”

Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to President Bush, this month offers that Estrada was assistant solicitor general, a federal prosecutor, a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, argued 15 cases before the High Court, and did some pro bono work.

Call me underwhelmed.

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