11 Feb 2003 Project 21 Press Release: Activists Criticize Senate Liberals for Delaying Historic Vote on Hispanic Nominee – February 2003
African-Americans affiliated with the conservative black leadership network Project 21 are outraged by stall tactics being threatened by liberal U.S. senators opposed to consideration of the judicial nomination of Miguel Estrada. Estrada would become the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Project 21 members liken the current filibuster threat to the opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and say that while liberal senators have every right to oppose any nominee they wish, all of any President’s nominees deserve the courtesy of a vote.
President George W. Bush nominated Estrada, a former assistant solicitor general during the Clinton Administration, in May of 2001. Democrats in control of the Senate at the time did not hold a hearing until late 2002 and never held a confirmation vote. Now, after the current Republican leadership held a second hearing and scheduled a vote on Estrada’s nomination for this week, liberal Democrats are threatening to filibuster the vote.
In a filibuster, opponents prolong debate to the degree that other Senate business is disrupted by its continuation. It takes 60 votes (out of 100 senators) to override such a practice. All 51 Republican senators and three Democrats so far support the Estrada nomination.
Project 21 member Jeffrey Clark explained his personal view: “I think it is really hypocritical of the Democrats to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada. The only reason these liberals are opposing him is because he is about the rule of law and strictly interpreting the Constitution. Here we have a person of color who has risen from adversity and fulfilled the American Dream, and the supposed party of the disadvantaged is against him. It’s time for the Democrats to end the double standard.”
One of the most famous filibusters in recent history was a 75-day filibuster against to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The second-to-last speaker in this filibuster was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who still serves today and opposes the Estrada nomination.
“No one should be surprised that Byrd would have this opposition. He hasn’t changed,” said Project 21 member Michael King.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Jennifer Cabranes Braceras has said: “In the absence of a principled or coherent basis for opposition to this nomination, the Democratic leadership has shamelessly attempted to play the race card… [The] effort to paint Mr. Estrada as Hispanic ‘in name only’… has exposed a deep hypocrisy, rooted in racism, on the question of diversity.”
Project 21 has been a leading voice in the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact Chris Burger or David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s web site at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.