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GOP Again Loses on Estrada Vote

For the fifth time, Democrats block the confirmation of federal judicial nominee.

May 06, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans lost a fifth attempt Monday to break a Democratic filibuster of judicial nominee Miguel A. Estrada shortly after the Senate approved its fifth U.S. Appeals Court nominee this year.

Estrada, nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has been waiting for three months for a confirmation vote. But Republicans fell eight votes short of the 60 votes they needed to confirm him. The vote was 52 to 39.

Earlier, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook was confirmed by the Senate on a 66-25 vote for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Democrats say they won't let Estrada have a confirmation vote until he answers more questions and the White House releases memos Estrada wrote while working for the Justice Department. Democrats say they fear that Estrada would be an extreme right-wing judge.

Republicans say Democrats are treating Estrada unfairly because he is a conservative Latino, and their filibusters are unconstitutionally keeping President Bush's judicial nominees off the bench.

Estrada is one of two Bush judicial nominees being blocked by Democrats. Last week, Texas Judge Priscilla Owen also was filibustered by Democrats, who called her pro-business and antiabortion.

Democrats say they opposed Cook but didn't filibuster.

Republicans hold a 51-48 advantage in the Senate, with Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont the only independent.

"Her record is extreme, even in comparison with her Republican colleagues on the Ohio Supreme Court," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). "She consistently seems bent on narrowly construing laws intended to remedy violations of the rights of individuals."

Cook "is someone with great integrity, great honesty and someone who would make a fine federal judge," said Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).

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