On September 4, 2003, Miguel Estrada, a nominee to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, withdrew his name from consideration for a seat on the federal bench. Estrada’s nomination had been filibustered by the Senate since January. Seven cloture votes, which would have ended debate and forced a vote, were defeated. Democrats filibustered this nominee because of his refusal to answer important questions on his judicial views and to release memoranda from his work in the Solicitor General's office. NCJW opposed Estrada’s confirmation. Efforts of constituents around the country made a key difference in the Senate's refusal to proceed with this nomination.

Who is Miguel Estrada?

  • Miguel Estrada was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 1961. He attended the State University of New York and received a BA cum laude from Columbia College in 1983 and a JD magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1986.
  • Estrada served as a clerk for Judge Amalia Kearse on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals from 1986-87, and became an associate in the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in 1987. In 1988-89 he clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the US Supreme Court.
  • Estrada rejoined Wachtell from 1989-90, and then served as Assistant US Attorney for Southern District of New York from 1990-92. In 1992 he went back to the law firm and later that year became Assistant Solicitor General in the US Department of Justice where he served from 1992-1997.
  • In 1997, Estrada joined the firm of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher, where he served as counsel until 1999. In 2000, Estrada became a partner in the firm and has remained there to the present.
      Why does NCJW oppose Miguel Estrada's nomination?

  • Miguel Estrada was directly asked about his views on privacy and reproductive rights both at his confirmation hearing and in written follow-up questions. He refused to state that he believes the Constitution guarantees a woman’s right to choose, stating instead that he would “follow” and “apply controlling Supreme Court case law in the area of abortion.” The administration has also refused to give the Judiciary Committee memoranda Estrada authored while Assistant Solicitor General in the Clinton Justice Department that could provide insight into his judicial philosophy.
  • At his confirmation hearing, Estrada conceded that ideology sometimes played a role when he screened applicants for clerkships with Justice Anthony M.Kennedy while he himself was one of Justice Kennedy's clerks. Applicants have been quoted in the press as confirming that they were told by Estrada they were too liberal to serve the Justice.
  • When asked as a former Supreme Court clerk about the very low numbers of minority law clerks serving the Court, he stated that "if there was some reason for underrepresentation, it would be something to look into", but that he did not "have any reason to think it's anything other than a reflection of trends in society."
  • Estrada’s immediate superior in the Solicitor General's Office of the Justice Department, Paul Bender, has said that "Estrada lacks the judgment and ... is too much of an ideologue to be an appeals court judge."
  • He is a member of the Federalist Society, a right wing legal group, and serves on the board of directors of the Center for the Community Interest, a group that advocates solutions for crime issues that many believe violate the Bill of Rights.

Who else opposes Miguel Estrada?

ADA Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights
Alliance for Justice
American Association of University Women
Americans for Democratic Action
Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Congressional Black Caucus
Earth Justice
Feminist Majority
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women's Law Center
People for the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund
Sierra Club
Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project
(list in progress)

Additional Information:

September 4, 2003
NCJW Sees New Opportunity in Estrada Withdrawal

March 6, 2003
NCJW Hails Senate Vote on Estrada Nomination

February 4, 2003
NCJW Disappointed by Committee Vote on Miguel Estrada