The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, composed entirely of House Democrats, plans to announce today that it opposes the nomination of Miguel Estrada to a federal appeals court, deepening an already wide partisan chasm over the nomination.
In a statement they will release today and in interviews, the caucus's 18 members portrayed Estrada as aloof from the everyday concerns of Latinos. Caucus Chairman Silvestre Reyes (Tex.) said the organization seeks Hispanic judicial nominees who have "demonstrated a commitment to protecting the rights of Latinos" in their professional work and volunteer activities, and who have worked to expand civil rights and economic opportunities for Latinos.
"Mr. Estrada falls short on each of those matters," Reyes said.
President Bush nominated Estrada, a conservative Hispanic lawyer, to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider the nomination Thursday.
Rep. Robert Menendez (N.J.) said that during an interview with caucus members in June, Estrada appeared to have "a very short fuse. . . . I don't think he has the judicial temperament that is necessary to be a judge."
The Estrada nomination received a second blow yesterday when the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund expressed "grave concerns" over whether Estrada would be a "fair and impartial jurist" on issues such as racial profiling. The group did not outright oppose Estrada, but said "the burden to address these concerns lies with the nominee."
The House's three GOP Hispanic members, who do not belong to the caucus, reiterated their support for Estrada and criticized the caucus for opposing him.
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