When asked about the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump was clear: “It will be somebody from that list.” The list of potential nominees is fantastic, but I feel it is missing a name: Miguel Estrada. I know many people haven’t heard of Miguel Estrada, so let me tell you a story . . .
Back in 2001, President Bush made a number of nominations to Circuit Courts across the country. One notable name on the list was Miguel Estrada, nominee to the D.C. Circuit, widely seen as the second most important court in the nation behind the Supreme Court.
Miguel Estrada was born in Honduras in 1962; his parents divorced when he was young. At 17 he immigrated, legally, to the United States to join his mother. Arriving with a limited knowledge of English, he graduated magna cum laude from Columbia in 1983 and received his JD from Harvard three years later, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
After graduation he clerked for Judge Kearse on the 2nd Circuit, and then for now-retiring Justice Kennedy. (Associate Justice Gorsuch also clerked for Justice Kennedy.) After his prestigious clerkships, Estrada worked alongside now-Chief Justice Roberts in the Solicitor General’s office under President George H.W. Bush.
In May 2001, he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit. The ABA unanimously rated him “well qualified.” Despite this, he was seen as too “ideological” to be on the court and the Democrats in the Senate filibustered his nomination. Democrats cited the refusal of the Solicitor General’s office to release his writings, even though that was an unprecedented request. A bipartisan group of former Solicitors General even wrote a letter condemning the request from Democratic leadership.
While this was the stated reason for blocking his nomination, the real reason soon became apparent. Leaked internal memos reflected that “LIBERAL” interest groups desired to block his nomination because “he is Latino.” That’s right. Democrats filibustered a nominee for the D.C. Circuit because the nominee was LATINO.
Specifically, they were afraid of his potential for becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
Eventually, the issue was resolved when Estrada withdrew his name under the provisions of the Gang of 14 Deal.
Miguel Estrada was the first Circuit Court nominee to be successfully filibustered. He is a strong conservative, and, ultimately, he deserves the hearing he was denied 15 years ago.
President Trump, please nominate Miguel Estrada to the Supreme Court.