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Cryo Chamber

When Democrats derailed a GOP Latino nominee

Unless something entirely unforeseen happens, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be a lovefest for the Democrats who run the Senate Judiciary Committee.  There will be much talk about Sotomayor’s historic opportunity to become the first Hispanic on the Court, about her inspiring background, and about the sterling qualifications she would bring to the job.  Sotomayor will have the majority party strongly on her side, and odds are things will end happily for her.

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For some Republicans, however, it will be hard to

avoid thinking back a few years, to a confirmation hearing that didn’t

end happily at all.  In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated former

Justice Department lawyer Miguel Estrada to a seat on the federal

courts of appeals.  In that instance, as today, the nominee was was a

Hispanic with a compelling story and impressive qualifications.  And

some of the very people who are today praising Sotomayor spent their

time devising extraordinary measures to kill Estrada’s chances.


in Honduras, Estrada came to the United States at 17, not knowing a

word of English.  He learned the language almost instantly, and within

a few years was graduating with honors from Columbia University and

heading off to Harvard Law School.  He clerked for Supreme Court

Justice Anthony Kennedy, was a prosecutor in New York, and worked at

the Justice Department in Washington before entering private practice.

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