February 19, 2003


Parties Gamble on Estrada Nomination: Fight Over Appeals Court Hopeful May Set Tone for '04 Presidential Campaign (Mike Allen, February 19, 2003, Washington Post)
One of the early skirmishes of next year's presidential race is being fought over President Bush's nomination of a Hispanic lawyer to a federal appeals court, with both parties gambling that their decision to engage in a Senate stalemate over his confirmation is worth the political risk.

Republicans see the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as a chance to build goodwill among Hispanics and erode Democrats' solid standing among minority voters. Democrats contend that Bush is trying to run roughshod over the Senate to try to pack the federal courts with conservatives.

Both parties are treating this as a dress rehearsal for Bush's first Supreme Court nomination. Estrada -- who has no judicial experience -- often appears on GOP lists of potential Bush nominees to the high court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District is often viewed as the nation's second most powerful court because it rules on the constitutionality of federal laws and regulations, and resolves disputes between the executive and legislative branches.

Thus Democrats have refused to let the nomination come to a vote, mounting what is effectively a filibuster, although the Republicans have not yet called their bluff by demanding round-the-clock talkathons. [...]

A drawn-out battle poses problems for both parties. Republicans hope to repeat their success of last fall in using a deadlock over the creation of a Department of Homeland Security to paint Democrats as obstructionist. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Friday that Democrats were sending a message of "obstruction, obstruction, obstruction."

Democrats argue that Republicans will be blamed for gridlock and bickering now that they control the Senate.

How is this a risk for the GOP: it either gets a conservative Hispanic judge or an issue with which to stir Latino resentment of the Democrats? And what conceivable upside is there for Democrats, who either lose or get an equally conservative nominee in his place, having alienated Hispanics either way?

And let's see how long the Democrats are willing to bring Senate business to a halt once the war starts...

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2003 3:22 PM

I agree OJ - either the GOP gets its nominee or makes the Dems look bad in opposing him.

It's articles like these that make one question how reporters think.

Posted by: AWW at February 19, 2003 9:14 PM