Pro-Abortion Groups Back Filibuster to Block Confirmation of Miguel Estrada to U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.


WASHINGTON (February 5, 2003) - - At the urging of NARAL and other pro-abortion groups, most Democratic U.S. senators currently are filibustering to prevent a vote on the confirmation

of Miguel Estrada, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This court is generally considered to be second in importance only to the Supreme Court. Miguel Estrada is the first Hispanic ever to be nominated to this court.

Miguel Estrada was nominated by President Bush nearly two years ago. The American Bar Association's review committee unanimously rated Estrada as "well qualified," but the Senate Democratic leadership blocked his confirmation until they lost their majority.

On January 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination on a 10-9 party-line vote. Because a majority of senators, including all 51 Republicans, would vote to confirm Estrada, pro-abortion groups have persuaded Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and many other Democratic senators to block a vote by launching a filibuster.

In order to end this filibuster, it will be necessary for nine Democratic senators to join the Republicans in voting to end debate ("invoke cloture"), since this requires 60 votes. As of March 5, four Democratic senators had announced that they do NOT support the filibuster: John Breaux (La.), Zell Miller (Ga.), Ben Nelson (Ne.), and Bill Nelson (Fl.).

The Senate is likely to have repeated votes on whether to invoke cloture and approve Estrada, beginning on or about March 6. There is no limit to how many times the Senate might be forced to vote on this question.

Estrada's nomination is being blocked by the Senate Democratic leadership because he has not committed to support abortion.

In a January 31 e-mail alert, NARAL said that Estrada "has pointedly refused to answer the Senate's questions on his view of Roe v. Wade."

The pro-abortion group Feminist Majority said in a January 31 alert, "This is the first test of the filibuster strategy - - if we can block this vote, we will be sending a strong message to President Bush, telling him that we won't stand by while he stacks the courts with right-wing, reactionary judges. Estrada has not demonstrated commitment to women's rights or civil rights and has refused to answer questions about his commitment to abortion rights or basic civil rights."

Democratic senators - - regardless of their positions on abortion - - should be targeted for phone calls, e-mails, and faxes with messages expressing clear opposition to any filibuster against Miguel Estrada.

Here are the action items:

* Go to the NRLC website at, and enter the NRLC Legislative Action Center. Use the zip code finder, or click on the "Elected Officials" tab above and then use the map, to call up information on your two U.S. senators. Then send the recommended e-mail message or a similar message to each of them.

* The profile of a senator often includes a published fax number (use the tab for "Elected Officials," then the button for "Info" on a specific senator, and then read the "Contact Information"). Where a fax number is available, fax the senator a letter with a message along the lines suggested below.

* Call the nearest in-state office of each senator and register your opinion in support of Miguel Estrada. Phone numbers for a senator's in-state offices are usually listed in a senator's profile information here at the NRLC Legislative Action Center (again, use the tab for "Elected Officials," then the button for "Info"), or may be obtained from local information.

* It is also good to call the senators' Washington, D.C., offices. All senators' offices can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, but during big fights the switchboard is sometimes jammed, so it is better to obtain the direct number for each senator's office from the NRLC Legislative Action Center profiles or another source.

* Please e-mail responses received from any senator (especially any Democrat) to, or fax them to 202-347-3668.

The basic message:

By phone or letter, the basic message is simple: "I urge Senator __________ to vote to end the filibuster against Miguel Estrada. As President Bush said, 'Give the man a vote.' Please write to inform me whether you will vote to invoke cloture and end debate on the Estrada nomination."