Bench Memos

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The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association’s Contemptible Racial Bullying


As this Denver Post article reports, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association has sent a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell urging the confirmation of William J. Martinez to a district-court seat in Colorado.

The CHBA letter, signed by its president, Damian J. Arguello, crudely plays the racial card. Without offering any citation for its mistaken proposition, the CHBA letter asserts that “Republican Senators have reportedly blocked the confirmation of virtually all nominees from ethnically diverse backgrounds.” [Emphasis added.] The letter then asserts: “Despite the Republican Party’s claim to support diversity generally and the Latino community in particular, the resulting, inescapable perception is that these blockages are racially motivated.” Further: “This seems particularly so with respect to Mr. Martinez, as we have heard no concerns voiced about his legal acumen, integrity, or personal or professional activities that warrant preventing him from taking the bench.”

At the risk of letting the facts get in the way of the CHBA’s contemptible rant, I offer a few observations:

1. By my quick count, 17 of the 43 Obama nominees who have been confirmed are racial or ethnic minorities.  Of the 38 judicial nominees now on the floor (19 of whom just arrived there this month), the CHBA letter identifies 13 who are minorities. So the percentage of minority nominees who have actually been confirmed is marginally higher than the percentage awaiting floor action. 

2. Given the Left’s general complaint that Senate Republicans are engaged in wholesale obstruction of President Obama’s judicial nominees, one would expect that anyone making the incendiary charge that there has been “racially motivated” obstruction would provide some evidence for that charge. CHBA doesn’t provide any.

3. The rumored deal between Democrats and Republicans to confirm 19 supposedly “noncontroversial” nominees includes Martinez and nine other minority nominees whom the CHBA claims have been the victims of “racially motivated” obstruction. Ah, how insidious those Republicans are—masking their “racially motivated” obstruction by the clever camouflage of striking a deal to confirm the supposed victims. 

4. Contrary to what the CHBA letter contends, there were in fact substantial concerns raised about Martinez at his hearing—concerns rooted in his affiliations with the ACLU of Colorado and other left-wing groups and in his refusal to testify about his own legal views on matters like the death penalty.

5. More broadly, as the contentious battle over President Bush’s unsuccessful nomination of Miguel Estrada illustrates, it is Senate Democrats who appear to see minority status as a strong plus-factor in their opposition to nominees who are judicial conservatives.   

The only “inescapable perception” that the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association’s letter supports is that Mr. Arguello and CHBA have an unfortunate interest in racial demagoguery.


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