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September 27, 2002

Poetic Irony- Estrada Screened Clerks on Ideology

As today's NRO notes, Estrada has been hit with a stealth bomb that will probably kill his nomination. It turns out when Estrada clerked for Justice Kennedy, he was in charge of screening potential clerks and he screened them based on ideology. A Nation article last week had the goods, quoting a friend of Estrada who applied for a clerkship:

The first told me: "Since I knew Miguel, I went to him to help me get a Supreme Court clerkship. I knew he was screening candidates for Justice Kennedy. Miguel told me, 'No way. You're way too liberal.' I felt he was definitely submitting me to an ideological litmus test, and I am a moderate Democrat. When I asked him why I was being ruled out without even an interview, Miguel told me his job was to prevent liberal clerks from being hired. He told me he was screening out liberals because a liberal clerk had influenced Justice Kennedy to side with the majority and write a pro-gay-rights decision in a case known as Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado statute that discriminated against gays and lesbians."
The killer point is obvious-- if clerks get screened based on ideology, why shouldn't the judges who actually make the decisions get screened the same way?

Estrada denied the charge then backtracked trying to fudge the issue, but as the NRO piece understands, the damage is immeasurable. Estada's whole strategy was to have left no marks and sneak onto the bench; since he has so few positive marks anything negative is a potential killer.

Since folks I trust who have dealt with Estada think he's possibly the most rightwing of Bush's nominees, this can only be a good thing.

Posted by Nathan at September 27, 2002 12:52 PM

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