White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, writing in the Washington Post, takes the occasion of John Roberts’ first day as a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to note certain ironies. First, Roberts was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, but only after Senate Democrats stalled his confirmation for almost a year. If Roberts was so strong a candidate that no Democrat voted against him, how can the long delay be justified? Second, Roberts’ background and credentials (and political views, although Gonzalez leaves this factor out) are quite similar to those of Miguel Estrada, the subject of an unprecedented filibuster by Senate Democrats. The stated reason for the filibuster is that Estrada has refused to provide answers about his personal views on certain legal and policy issues, and to provide confidential case memoranda that might reflect these views. Yet Roberts was never asked such questions.
Gonzalez notes that Estrada would be the first Hispanic to serve on the D.C. Circuit, thus inviting the reader to conclude that the difference in the treatment of Roberts and Estrada has to do with the latter’s national origin. For what it’s worth, I doubt that this is the case. But since there is no legitimate explanation for the disparity (which I think stems from a complicated political calculation), Gonzalez is justified in pointing out the anomalies and permitting the reader to infer that the shabby treatment of Estrada may be related to his national origin.
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