Before we jump on Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) bones for supposedly disrespecting the
Hispanic community by announcing today that he is opposing the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, perhaps we should review the record.
The same folks who today can conceive of no other reason why conservatives oppose Sotomayor than their supposed loathing of Latinos should read his complete statement. In it, McCain reminds us of the nasty campaign waged by the left wing against Miguel Estrade, a Latino who was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. appeals court:
an excellent resume and an inspiring life story are not enough to
qualify one for a lifetime of service on the Supreme Court.
Those who suggest otherwise need to be reminded of Miguel Estrada. Mr. Estrada also was a supremely qualified candidate. And he too has an incredible life story. Miguel Estrada actually immigrated to the United States from Honduras as a teenager, understanding very little English. Yet,
he managed to graduate from Columbia University and Harvard Law School
magna cum laude before serving his country as a prosecutor and a lawyer
at the Department of Justice. Later, he found success as a lawyer in private practice. However,
Miguel Estrada, in spite of his qualifications and remarkable
background - in spite of the fact that millions of Latinos would have
taken great pride in his confirmation - was filibustered by the
Democrats seven times, most recently in 2003 because many Democrats
disagreed with Mr. Estrada's judicial philosophy. This was the first filibuster ever to be successfully used against a court of appeals nominee.
supported Mr. Estrada's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of
Appeals, not because of his inspiring life story or impeccable
qualifications, but because his judicial philosophy was one of
restraint. He was explicit in his writings and
responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would not seek to
legislate from the bench.
McCain has done the right thing, which is to vote his conscience on what matters to him: a judicial philosophy of restraint. Whether or not he offends the large bloc of Latinos in his state is not a part of the calculus. And it should not be. Just as it should not be a reason for voting for Sotomayor.
If McCain loses his next election because of his vote, so be it. It will have been an act that would qualify for inclusion in John F. Kennedy's book, Profiles in Courage. Perhaps he should be respected for that, not ridiculed for kowtowing to his "right wing base."