Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Left's Racial Double Standard

Earlier this month I argued that "leftists don't care about the advancement of minorities, they care about the advancement of their own power."

The post generated a lot of
attention and pushback, primarily because the point's so true.

Now with the controversial Sonia Sotomayor nomination, we're seeing the left's racial double standard at work. There's a number of relevant articles. For example, John Romano's essay is worth a look, "
Race Only Matters When it Favors Democrats." And Neo-Neocon offers a powerful analysis of diversity politics in, "Identity Politics and the Sotomayor Nomination." And the New York Times follows that up with, "Court Choice Pushes ‘Identity Politics’ to Forefront."

But today's most brutally revealing article on the Democratic double-standard is Byron York's, "
When Democrats Derailed a GOP Latino Nominee." Here's some background on the left's response to George W. Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:

Born 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.

Estrada's nomination for a federal judgeship set off alarm bells among Democrats. There is a group of left-leaning organizations -- People for the American Way, NARAL, the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, and others -- that work closely with Senate Democrats to promote Democratic judicial nominations and kill Republican ones. They were particularly concerned about Estrada.

In November, 2001, representatives of those groups met with Democratic Senate staff. One of those staffers then wrote a memo to Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, informing Durbin that the groups wanted to stall Bush nominees, particularly three they had identified as good targets. "They also identified Miguel Estrada as especially dangerous," the staffer added, "because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."

It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench.

Durbin and his colleagues did as they were instructed. But they had nothing with which to kill the nomination -- no outrageous statement by Estrada, no ethical lapse, no nothing. What to do?

They brainstormed. Estrada had once worked in the Justice Department's Office of Solicitor General, right? (Appointed under the first President Bush, Estrada stayed to serve several years under Clinton.) That office decides which cases the government will pursue in the Supreme Court, right? And that process involves confidential legal memoranda, right? Well, why don't we suggest that there might be something damaging in those memos -- we have no idea whether there is or not -- and demand that they be made public?

Durbin and his colleagues knew the Bush Justice Department would insist the internal legal memos remain confidential, as they always had been. It wasn’t just the Bush Administration that thought releasing the documents was a terrible idea; all seven living former Solicitors General, Republican and Democrat, wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy begging him to back off.

But the Democrats didn't back off. They had a new, very serious question to ask: What is Miguel Estrada hiding?

The answer was nothing, of course. But the strategy worked. Democrats stonewalled Estrada's nomination, and, after losing control of the Senate in 2002, they began an unprecedented round of filibusters to block an entire slate of Bush appeals-courts nominees, Estrada among them. The confirmation process ground to a halt. More than two years after his nomination was announced, Estrada, tired of what appeared to be an endless runaround, withdrew his name from consideration. Instead of being on the federal bench, he is now in private practice in Washington.

And that was how Democrats treated the last high-level Hispanic court nominee. Think about that when you watch their lovefest with Sonia Sotomayor.

2 comments:

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Anonymous said...

In November, 2001, representatives of those groups met with Democratic Senate staff. One of those staffers then wrote a memo to Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, informing Durbin that the groups wanted to stall Bush nominees, particularly three they had identified as good targets. "They also identified Miguel Estrada as especially dangerous," the staffer added, "because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."

It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench.
This could be true, but York doesn't provide any evidence that it is. It seems more likely that the staffer quoted was saying that being Latino made Estrada more "dangerous" because it improved his chances of getting confirmed and maybe reaching the Supreme Court, just like having "a minimal paper trail" did.

I don't see what's hypocritical about this. Liberals care about having minorities on the bench, but they care more about having liberals on the bench. If the left believed that ethnicity was the only thing that mattered in judicial appointments they would be hypocrites for blocking Estrada, but they don't.