Earthjustice late last night expressed formal opposition to controversial appellate court nominee Miguel Estrada. The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on his nomination Wednesday. The non-profit environmental law firm respectfully urged that based upon the current record, the Senate, in the exercise of its constitutional advise and consent responsibility, should not confirm Mr. Estrada to a lifetime position on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The D.C. Circuit has long been considered the most crucial court for environmental protection after the Supreme Court. Its exclusive jurisdiction to hear challenges under many laws results in rulings on whether to uphold or strike down many critical national environmental safeguards that are seldom reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Yesterday Earthjustice and other national environmental groups re-submitted a prior letter to the Judiciary Committee regarding the consideration of Mr. Estrada and other pending and future D.C. Circuit nominees. That letter set forth the standard that Earthjustice believes the Senate should apply. In particular, the letter urged that Senators not vote to confirm D.C. Circuit nominees unless Senators “ensure that each nominee affirmatively establish his or her qualifications . . . . No President has a mandate to appoint to the federal courts judges who are or may be hostile to laws protecting the environment and the public’s health and welfare. The mere absence of disqualifying evidence in a nominee’s record should not constitute sufficient grounds for confirmation.” Read the full text of the letter.
Based upon the current record, Earthjustice believes that Mr. Estrada has not met this standard, in light of his limited public record on many of the key issues before the D.C. Circuit, the lack or unavailability of writings that would reveal his qualifications, and his testimony at his hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, including his sweeping and repeated failures to provide his views about any cases that the Supreme Court has decided in the past.
The Senate has confirmed more than 100 of President Bush’s nominees to the federal courts. Earthjustice has previously come out in opposition to only one of the President’s nominees: Judge D. Brooks Smith, confirmed to the 3rd Circuit last July. See Judging the Environment for more information.