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The dangerous double standard

Watching the Senate on television may not be the most popular pastime for many Americans. But it should come as no surprise that the current debate and unprecedented filibuster over the confirmation of Miguel Estrada, President George W. Bush’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court, has many people tuning in and paying close attention to a judicial battle of constitutional proportions.

From California to Colorado to New York and beyond, Americans are following the D.C. Circuit Court confirmation closely because they realize that justice is not issued by an individual court or judge, but rather, collectively – the integrity of the law depending on the ability of each court to function within the whole.

Now, in the midst of the Democrat-led filibuster, the Senate finds itself tied up in knots, unable to proceed to other key issues such as a prescription drug package and economic relief.



The Constitution commands that federal judges are to be appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. Yet today – thanks to the obstructionist tactics of the Democratic leadership – we face the very real possibility of shifting this authority in a manner that the framers never intended, fundamentally altering the amount of votes required to confirm judicial nominations.

It is clear that the Democrats are not interested in an up-or-down vote on the nomination. Instead, they prefer to hold the U.S. Senate hostage to entrenchment politics.



This strategy is simply unacceptable. Their reasons to prolong debate may be enough to justify a vote against Miguel Estrada, but they are not enough to prevent a vote entirely.

The public should demand an up-or-down vote and reject this partisan ploy that could set a dangerous precedent for all future judicial nominees. The attempts to alter long-standing constitutional principles are not the only alarming features of the Estrada debate.

The Democrats are also holding Miguel Estrada to a dangerous double standard, fighting his nomination because he lacks judicial experience, while ignoring judicial experience when It comes to their own nominees.

Under the experience litmus test, the late Justice Byron “Whizzer” White, a great Coloradan, nominated to the Supreme Court by President John F. Kennedy, would never have been confirmed.

Nor would another great Coloradan, Judge Carlos Lucero – who was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals- have been confirmed. To consider a lack of judicial experience as the poison pill of the Estrada nomination while ignoring the confirmation of Democratic nominees White and Lucero is a double standard of the highest order.

Estrada is obviously well qualified. He graduated from Harvard Law School with high honors and served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Estrada also worked as assistant solicitor general of the United States in both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

Now, he has the opportunity to become the first Hispanic judge on the D.C. Circuit Court.

While I believe a full and fair debate of presidential nominees is of paramount importance, obstructing an up-or-down vote fails the public trust and is a disservice to our system of justice.

I know how I am going to vote. I am voting for a highly qualified individual. The American Bar Association agrees. That individual is Miguel Estrada.

Wayne Allard is a U.S. senator from Colorado. He is a Republican.


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