Stop the right-wing packing of our Courts

Bush continues to attempt packing the courts with right-wing extremists.  Democrats must dig in and filibuster extremist nominations. The first test vote will be on Miguel Estrada, a stealth right-wing extremist who has never served as a judge, and who has taken pains to hide his views on the law from the public. Yet Estrada has been nominated to the second-most powerful court in the country, and is widely thought to be Bush's top choice for a seat on the Supreme Court.

The Senate will consider the Estrada nomination early this week. Please call your Senators now at:

  Senator Edward M. Kennedy
  DC Phone: 202-224-4543

  Senator John F. Kerry
  DC Phone: 202-224-2742

Make sure they know you're a constituent, then urge your Senators to:

"Please support a filibuster to block the Estrada nomination"*

Please help us keep a count of your calls by filling out the form below:



Did you get through?

How many calls did you make?

(If the form doesn't work, go to .)

As you know, federal judges decide the law in key areas including reproductive choice, the environment, elections, civil & constitutional rights, health care, and privacy. President Bush recently nominated 30 people for federal judgeships. If confirmed for lifetime appointments, these judges will impact our lives for decades to come.

We saw Estrada coming, and on January 23rd MoveOn members, in partnership with Working Assets and People for the American Way, held meetings in Senate offices around the country on the nominations. Then last week, we flooded the phone lines of wavering Senators. As a result, the committee vote was along party lines, setting up the possibility of filibuster on the Senate floor.

The Senators listed below voted in committee to block Estrada. If your Senator is on this list, please thank him or her when you call:

Joe Biden (D-DE)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
John Edwards (D-NC)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on Thursday that she had received 3,300 phone calls opposing the Estrada nomination, and just 5 in favor. MoveOn members had made 3,200 phone calls to Feinstein's and Biden's offices.

That vote, and our role in it, were the talk of Capitol Hill last week.

Nobody there had expected that people would care enough to call about a little-known Appeals Court nomination, but we showed them what's possible. Senate leaders including Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Harry Reid (D-NV) were reportedly "amazed." Senator Feinstein called for a battle on the Senate floor to stop the Estrada nomination.

Suddenly, we're on the verge of a major, watershed moment. If we can generate enough Democratic unity to stop Estrada, we'll send a clear message to the White House that the American people and the Senate will not be bullied by the right wing. We'll help Senate Democrats prove to themselves that they're capable of defending our values. We'll set a precedent that could enable a new level of unity across numerous crucial issues facing the Senate: safeguarding our Constitutional rights; strengthening the economy for everyone, not just oil tycoons; protecting our environment; maybe even demanding that we let the Iraq inspections work.

All this is possible if we win the vote this week. And we can win it. It will take just 41 Senators to block the Estrada nomination using a filibuster. (See below for more information on filibusters.)

This is a tipping point moment. Please call your Senators now:

  Senator Edward M. Kennedy
  DC Phone: 202-224-4543

  Senator John F. Kerry
  DC Phone: 202-224-2742

Who is Miguel Estrada? We all have a right to know before we make him a judge. Yet he's done his best to hide his views on the law from us.

Miguel Estrada has never served as a judge before, so he's never issued a written opinion on a case. Nonetheless he has a reputation as a right-wing ideologue. Paul Bender, a former Deputy Solicitor General who once supervised Estrada's work, said he found him so "ideologically driven that he couldn't be trusted to state the law in a fair, neutral way."**

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are among a wide range of civic groups opposing the Estrada nomination.

During hearings held in the last Congress, Estrada refused to answer Senators' legitimate questions about his legal and judicial views. His silence is designed to make it hard for Senators to oppose him.

But more and more voices are speaking out in opposition. The New York Times calls him "An Unacceptable Nominee" and says: "The very absence of a paper trail on matters like abortion and civil liberties may be one reason the administration chose him. It is also a compelling - indeed necessary - reason to reject him."***

Please call your Senators immediately. You could make an incredible difference. Thank you.

- Peter Schurman
  Executive Director
  February 3, 2003

* For more information on filibusters, see our recent bulletin at:

** Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2002: "Stakes Are High in Push for   Latino Court Nominee"; David G. Savage, Janet Hook.

*** The New York Times editorial, "An Unacceptable Nominee", is at: