Since the beginning of George W. Bush's tenure in the White House, liberals have waged an unprecedented campaign to block, delay and besmirch his judicial nominees. The tone was set when the left smeared Charles Pickering--a federal judge, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a longtime proponent of racial reconciliation in the New South--as a racist, and blocked his nomination.
Tensions boiled over when the president nominated Miguel Estrada, a Honduran immigrant with an impeccable record, to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The minority Democrats, led by Tom Daschle, blocked him with a filibuster. Never before had the filibuster been used to block a judicial nominee with majority support. The filibuster had the effect of twisting the Constitution's explicit 51-vote judicial confirmation standard to an unconstitutional 60-vote hurdle.
Leaked Democratic memos indicate that Mr. Estrada was targeted, in part, because, "he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment," and because, "we can't make the same mistake we made with Clarence Thomas." Judiciary Democrats, led by Sens. Edward Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin, agreed to block or slow-walk particular nominees at the behest of liberal campaign donors, including the trial lawyers, the NAACP, and the national abortion providers' lobby. These Democrats decided, in advance of hearings, which nominees to block, and Democratic staffers characterized Bush nominees as "Nazis."
Since 2003, Democrats have filibustered Mr. Estrada plus nine other appellate nominees: Carolyn Kuhl, Priscilla Owen, Judge Pickering, Bill Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, Henry Saad, David McKeague, Richard Griffin and William Myers. Most of them were elected previously to their states' supreme courts and are either women or ethnic minorities.