Thursday, September 26, 2002

Estrada 24/7. Much of this comes straight from Howard Bashman's incomparable appellate law blog. One of the most important pieces of testimony (not in a legal sense) comes from an e-mail from someone interviewed by the Estrada hit-squad looking for dirt. Please read this.

Law Professor Jeff Cooper would banish Miguel Estrada forwith, sua sponte, ipse dixit, post haste, hocus pocus. Kidding aside, it's a pretty argument for wanting to deny Estrada a seat on the bench. Usually law professors are a bit more erudite -- perhaps it's an off day for him -- he must've been flumoxed by a blonde 1L today and is in a bit of a mental funk. In any event, you need to get out of your coop a bit more, Jeff.

Last, I love Stuart Buck's suggested next Judicial nominee. What a great hearing that would make. I could never be a nominee for anything facing this committee -- It would take me all of, oh about 10 minutes before I was doing a Sam Kinison"Well at least I didn't have to CHEAT in law school you @*$%# moron. I never got DRUNK and KILLED anyone..." etc.

No, they're not all bad -- Senator Feinstein, although having a one-track mind on abortion, would probably be a fine judge -- and, well, there must be someone else on the Democratic side of the aisle who's also temperate and judicious. I just can't think of anyone else.
Hearing Update. Based on the tone of the questions so far, I'd guess that the Leahy gang has decided to tie the knot on this one. The tone of the questioning is markedly different than that of the McConnell hearing -- the committee resumes at 2:00.

I heard the questioning from Schumer, Leahy, Kennedy, and Feinstein and snatches of Kohl (I think). Schumer and Kennedy dwelt on the request for the committee for all attorney work product from the Soliciter General's office. This request has been opposed by every living former Soliciter General going back to Archie Cox under Kennedy. Frankly, this request is really unheard of and I'm surprised to see them pushing it so intently. Listening to the two of them yammer on I could see that this was nothing more than laying a pretextual foundation for rejecting Estrada.

Leahy has focused on Estrada's background, trying to say that he's wealthy, elitest, and speaks English well. Bizarre. Sen. Feinstein (D-Planned Parenthood) spent her period of questioning to extract pledges of fealty to the Most Holy Sacrament of Abortion on Demand. Kohl and Feinstein also spent a little time on the Lopez case -- striking down a federal law as being outside the commerce clause.

Feinstein and another Senator (don't recall) also raised a curious report as to whether Estrada dissuaded a person from seeking to clerk for Justice Kennedy because that person was "too liberal." Estrada denied this. In her questioning, Feinstein identified the source of this claim as coming from the Nation magazine and read the first paragraph aloud:
Perhaps the most damaging evidence against Estrada comes from two lawyers he interviewed for Supreme Court clerkships. Both were unwilling to be identified by name for fear of reprisals. The first told me: "Since I knew Miguel, I went to him to help me get a Supreme Court clerkship. I knew he was screening candidates for Justice Kennedy. Miguel told me, 'No way. You're way too liberal.' I felt he was definitely submitting me to an ideological litmus test, and I am a moderate Democrat. When I asked him why I was being ruled out without even an interview, Miguel told me his job was to prevent liberal clerks from being hired. He told me he was screening out liberals because a liberal clerk had influenced Justice Kennedy to side with the majority and write a pro-gay-rights decision in a case known as Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado statute that discriminated against gays and lesbians."

I also interviewed a young law professor and former Justice Department attorney who told me a very similar story. "I was a clerk for an appeals court judge," the professor told me, "and my judge called Justice Kennedy recommending me for a clerkship with him. Justice Kennedy then called me and said I had made the first cut and would soon be called for an interview. I was then interviewed by Miguel Estrada and another lawyer. Estrada asked most of the questions. He asked me a lot of unfair, ideological questions, a lot about the death penalty, which I told him I thought was immoral. I felt I was being subjected to an ideological litmus test. Estrada was being obnoxious. He was acting like it was his job to weed out liberal influences on Justice Kennedy. I was never called back by anyone."
[BTW, the author of this article is Jack Newfield and this passage may be found here.] It should be surprising that two Democratic senators would rely on rank hearsay to smear a nominee -- but the rules have changed, haven't they?

The other interesting moment was when Estrada explained his meeting with three representatives from the PRLDEF -- he indicated that one was trying to get him to commit to prejudging cases in a way that s/he favored -- when Estrada failed to do so this individual said that they decided who was Hispanic enough and that he didn't meet the criteria -- something to which Estrada took offense at and told this person so.

Afternoon Update The hearing started a little late -- Estrada started the session by seeking to clarify his response on the question raised by the Nation article set forth above. It was pretty clear that Schumer and Estrada weren't communicating very clearly -- Estrada was seeking to clarify and Schumer was getting angry with him and has indicated he will come back to this matter on the second round for questioning.

Finally, Senator Hatch is raising the sane suggestion that Estrada be allowed to confront his accuser. Schumer is way out of line on this -- It's interesting that he and his cronies have been raising the issue of fairness of process and intimating that Estrada will not be fair, but yet they are unable to adhere to the basic priniciples of being allowed to confront his accuser. Schumer should be ashamed of running a "Star Chamber" proceeding -- the reference was raised just now by Hatch.
Hearing today. Later this morning, will start the hearings on a slate of Judicial candidates including Miguel Estrada (finally). This will be broadcast over the internet here.
Sports West. Down to the wire, the Jints are gaining on the D'backs and may actually overtake them for the lead. The A's may back into the AL West Division Title, if the Angels keep losing-- and the M's may be the Wild Card. I love Baseball.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Sports Report. The Rams, Jets, and Steelers, all play-off teams last year, are a combined 1-7, having been outscored 129-240. San Diego, Carolina and NO are 6-0, having outscored their opponents 233-115. The top ranked quarterback in the NFL is sitting on the Browns bench (Kelly Holcomb 111) (and is available in the blogger bowl waiver pool -- I cut him yesterday).

The A's magic number is 4.

And very sad news -- Pittsburgh Steelers Center Mike Webster passed away at age 50.
Pass This. It's time to pass the Sudan Peace Act -- sponsored by (from left to right) Sens. Harkin, Feingold, Lincoln, Cleland, Lieberman, Collins, Bunning, DeWine, Grassley, Brownback, Santorum, Sessions, among others. In the House by Sheila Jackson-Lee, Pelosi, Lantos to Armey, Wolf, Chris Smith and J.C. Watts.
Prelude to a Hanging. The WaPo has a lengthy profile of Miguel Estrada in today's paper. Although it continues in the tradition of pretending to be a balanced newsreport, it reads like a thinly veiled hit piece. Basically, according to a number of very left-wing Hispanic groups, notably the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund ("PRLDEF"), Estrada isn't Hispanic enough. [Please see also, John Rosenberg's comments here.]

I have a long-time friend who is an attorney and is originally from Honduras, as is Estrada, and I asked if he had read the article. He had -- he was pretty incensed about it. First, he was pretty ticked off about PRLDEF being the arbiter of who is and is not Hispanic. According to the article and the comments of the PRLDEF, it is intimated that if you come from a background that is not a typical "wetback" stereotype -- i.e. an illegal who's back is wet from swiming the Rio Grande -- then you aren't a wetback. My friend points out that Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens, so how do they know what it's like to be an immigrant in the U.S.

Some other claims and statements in the article that are wrong:

---*--- "His father, Jesus Maria Estrada, who died in 1997, was a prominent . . . lawyer. . ." My friend is about a decade older (or more) than Estrada. My friend, whom I will identify as "Juan" (as in John Doe, so this is not his real name) was the son of a Honduran attorney -- in fact, he was the youngest son and his father went blind and brought Juan to work with him as a young boy and brought him to court to be his eyes. Juan said that he never heard of Jesus Estrada -- never heard of Estrada. Later, Juan went to the University in Honduras and then worked for the government in the diplomatic corps and learned the prominent families and said that he never heard of Estrada. Of course, even if Estrada was from a prominent family, would that be a crime or bar to office? It hasn't been in the case of Senators Kennedy, Dodd, Rockefeller, et al.

---*--- Estrada attened school at "the San Francisco Institute, an elite Catholic academy in a residential area of Tegucigalpa known as Country Club. . ." Teguciagalpa is the capital of Honduras and is also the area that Juan is from. The San Francisco Institute is a Catholic school run by Franciscans -- an order known for simplicity. He said that the idea this is an elite school is laughable. I should like to add that, as above, if it were an elite school -- should politicians who send their kids to Sidwell Friends, Cathedral, Georgetown Day, etc. go throwing stones? Second -- the appellation "Country Club" is wrong -- he said the school is next to a private community center called the country club, but that all it is is a community swimming pool -- no golf course or bar -- Juan doesn't remember if there are tennis courts there or any other facilities, but he doubts it.

---*--- The article notes that "Paul Bender, a liberal Clinton administration political appointee who served as principal deputy solicitor general" opined that Estrada ". . .lacks the judgment and is too much of an ideologue to be an appeals court judge," But after making this assertion has not thrown anymore mud. Opps, could it be that the reason for this is that Estrada supervisor Bender actually gave Estrada an "outstanding" recommendation on his performance review.

---*--- Last, and this is an extremely important consideration, the borking of Estrada is a terrible move for the Democrats and their left-wing masters. The WaPo notes
But Democrats must proceed gingerly with Estrada to avoid the risk of offending Hispanic voters themselves. For the Democrats to vote him down on ideological grounds, absent solid evidence he is unfit for the court, "would be a huge mistake -- it'll backfire on them," says Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which has endorsed Estrada.
Juan, normally as calm and courteous a man as you can find (befitting someone from the diplomatic corps) was irate about the Democrat's treatment of Estrada to date. He said that he is fed up with them and this is a final straw for him. The last time I saw Juan this angry was when Pete Wilson was campaigning for a Proposition that Juan and many other moderate Hispanics thought was anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Congratulations to Ben and Caroline on your very recent engagement. One of the coolest things, IMO, that Ben writes about is going to ask his intended's Father for his Daughter's hand in marriage. That is the thing that I regret not doing.

One of the most beautiful things written about marriage is from the opening of a wedding ceremony:
The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.
I pray for you two that this will be a truly blessed time of preparation.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Speechless. Actually, I just haven't had much to say lately -- been consumed with homeschooling and babies. Some good friends of our just had twins (we're they're children's guardians). Today we stood up for Joshua Richard Andrew Putz as one of his three sets of Godparents. It was a beautiful day.