NCJW Disappointed by Committee Vote on Miguel Estrada

February 4, 2003, Washington, DC – The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is deeply disappointed at the action of the Senate Judiciary Committee in sending to the Senate floor the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement today in regard to this nomination:

"The National Council of Jewish Women has viewed the nomination of Miguel Estrada to a seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals with deep concern for some time. After examining the record of Estrada's confirmation hearing and his answers to follow-up questions, we believe he does not merit appointment to this important lifetime position.

"The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is arguably the second most powerful court in the nation. A nominee to this court must be willing to disclose his views on broad legal questions that this court routinely faces. Estrada's views were not a matter of public record prior to his nomination, with minor exceptions. He has refused to respond candidly to numerous oral and written questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his judicial view and legal philosophy. Further, the administration has refused to release memoranda Estrada wrote while serving as Assistant Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. Such memoranda could be expected to provide insight into his judicial philosophy.

"Of particular concern is that Estrada would not answer oral and written questions about his views on privacy and reproductive rights. In fact, he refused to answer a direct question regarding his opinion of the Roe v. Wade decision. Given the essential role of Roe in assuring women their constitutionally protected right to abortion and other reproductive services, federal appellate court nominees should be required to demonstrate a commitment to upholding this fundamental constitutional right or, at least, to disclose their beliefs and ideology regarding this pivotal issue.

"In addition, Estrada's immediate supervisor at 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."

"NCJW urges the full Senate to reject this nomination when it comes to the Senate floor."

NCJW is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works to improve the quality of life for women, children and families and to ensure individual rights and freedoms through research, education, advocacy, and community service programs initiated by its network of 90,000 volunteers, supporters and members nationwide. It has launched BenchMark: NCJW's Campaign to Save Roe, a national effort to educate and mobilize NCJW members, the Jewish community, and friends and allies everywhere to promote a federal bench with judges that support fundamental freedoms, including a woman's right to choose.