Miguel Estrada: Wikis

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Miguel Estrada
Born September 25, 1961 (1961-09-25) (age 48)
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Nationality United States
Alma mater Columbia University
Harvard Law School
Occupation Lawyer
Employer Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Miguel Angel Estrada CastaƱeda (born September 25, 1961) is an attorney who became embroiled in controversy following his 2001 nomination by President George W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Unable to block Estrada's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Republican Party took control of the Senate in 2003, Senate Democrats used a filibuster to prevent his nomination from being given a final confirmation vote on the full Senate floor. Although a filibuster had been used in 1968 to prevent the elevation of Associate Justice Abe Fortas to the position of Chief Justice of the United States, Estrada's filibuster was the first ever to be successfully used against a nominee with support of the majority in the Senate and the first court of appeals nominee.

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Background

Estrada was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. After his parents divorced, he immigrated to the United States to join his mother when he was 17, arriving with a limited command of English.

He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree from Columbia in 1983. He received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree magna cum laude in 1986 from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Estrada served as a law clerk to Judge Amalya Lyle Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He then clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court during his first year on the Court in 1988. One of his fellow clerks during that year was Peter Keisler, another controversial conservative nominee to the D.C. Circuit whose nomination was never processed by the Senate Democrats during the 110th Congress.

From 1990 until 1992, Estrada served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. In 1992, he joined the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant to the Solicitor General for the George H. W. Bush Administration where he served with now Chief Justice John G. Roberts. In those capacities, Estrada represented the government in numerous jury trials and in many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, he practiced law in New York with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Estrada was married to Laury Gordon Estrada until her death at age 46 on November 28, 2004. She died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills, having also miscarried during the nomination fight. [1]

D.C. Circuit nomination under Bush

George W. Bush nominated Estrada to a position on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on May 9, 2001. He received a unanimous "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association. Democratic Senators opposed the nomination, noting Estrada's lack of any prior judicial experience at the local, state, or federal level. Democratic Senators also objected to the refusal by the Office of the Solicitor General to release samples of Estrada's writings while employed there.

A bipartisan group of former Solicitors General wrote a letter objecting to the Democrats' demand for memos that Estrada had written while he was with the office. While not addressing past instances where such memos had previously been released,[2] the letter argued release of prior memos by government employees to the public would endanger the Solicitor General Office's ability to provide confidential legal advice to the Executive Branch.

Leaked internal memos to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin mention liberal interest groups' desire to keep Estrada off the court partially because "he is Latino," and because of his potential to be a future Supreme Court nominee.[3] Democratic spokesman for Durbin said that "no one intended racist remarks against Estrada" and that the memo only meant to highlight that Estrada was "politically dangerous" because Democrats knew he would be an "attractive candidate" that would be difficult to contest since he didn't have any record.[3]

On March 6, 2003, there was the first of six failed cloture votes on Estrada. Fifty-five senators voted to end debate on his nomination and allow a final confirmation vote, and forty-four senators voted not to end debate.[4] After twenty-eight months in political limbo and a protracted six month long battle using the filibuster, Estrada withdrew his name from further consideration on September 4, 2003.[5] Bush nominated Thomas B. Griffith in his place, who was confirmed in 2005 under the terms of the Gang of 14 Deal.

With the benefit of hindsight, Jan Crawford Greenburg has said of the nomination that "[i]f Majority Leader Bill Frist had shown real leadership, he would never have allowed a Democratic minority to achieve the first-ever filibusters of appeals court nominees. If Trent Lott had been majority leader, Estrada would have been confirmed."[6]

Current life

Estrada is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where he is a member of the firm's Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group as well as the Business Crimes and Investigations Practice Group.

Estrada joined Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign as a judicial adviser.[7]

See also

References

Further reading

External links

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