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Land urges up or down vote on Estrada court nomination

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week, a group of Democrats will pick up where they left off when the Senate went into its Presidents’ Day recess — filibustering to block a confirmation vote on President Bush’s nominee to the federal appeals bench, Miguel Estrada.

And that has Richard Land fuming.

“This is disgraceful behavior by the obstructionist Sens. Leahy and Daschle and their cronies,” Land said during his Feb. 15 national radio program, “Richard Land Live!” (www.richardlandlive.com). Senate Democrats have vowed not to relent and allow a vote — which most believe would see Estrada approved — until Estrada is more forthcoming on his legal, and apparently, political views.

Yet Land is not moved.

“These senators appear not willing to live with the will of the people who spoke during the 2002 elections and removed their party from power in the Senate,” he continued on the program. “The Constitution says the U.S. Senate is to provide advice and consent, or dissent,” Land said, “not advice and obstruction.”

Miguel Estrada is tremendously qualified, Land said, calling him an “American success story.” The 41-year-old attorney who served as assistant to the solicitor general in the Clinton Justice Department immigrated to the United States at age 17, able to speak little if any English. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School at the top of his class, serving as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and later as a federal prosecutor in New York City. He has argued 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He has been given the highest possible rating by the American Bar Association,” Land argued. “And he has answered all the questions they have asked of him that he can answer,” he said, an assertion challenged by some Democrats and others who fear Estrada won’t be a supporter of abortion rights when he is on the bench.

Yet press reports say seven former solicitors general — who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations — are against the Justice Department releasing confidential memos Estrada wrote when he served as assistant to the solicitor general. Senate Democrats are demanding the memos be released to get a better bead on Estrada.

Abraham Lincoln said if you ask a judge how he is going to rule on a particular case and he answers the question, he ought to be despised and shouldn’t be confirmed, Land said.

He noted former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall likewise refused to answer such questions in his confirmation process, saying if he answered the questions others wanted him to answer he would have had to disqualify himself from virtually every case that came before the court.

“A filibuster has never been used before on a Court of Appeals judgeship,” Land said, noting Estrada, in his confirmation hearing last year, said he would set aside his political opinions if confirmed.

Land said he recently spoke to a former U.S. Attorney General who told him that the next 10 days will be “among the most critical the nation will face in the next 10 years.” And he wasn’t talking about the war in Iraq, Land added. “He was talking about the Estrada nomination.

“We have about 10 days to let the public put the heat on these obstructionists or they are going to think they have the veto power to stop President Bush from nominating the judges he feels he needs to make the rulings that will allow us to maintain our freedom in this country,” Land said. The president is committed to nominating strict constructionists who interpret the law and don’t make law from the bench, Land added.

“You need to contact your senators and tell them to vote yes or no. Just don’t keep a vote from taking place; don’t obstruct the business of the Senate,” Land concluded.
“Richard Land Live!” a nationally syndicated program, is a caller-driven, mid-day talk program that airs each Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern over the Salem Radio Network.

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  • Dwayne Hastings