Last week, in response to Democratic complaints that appeals-court nominee Miguel Estrada has failed to answer questions about his legal views, the White House invited any senator who has doubts about Estrada’s views to send him written questions. The White House asked that questions be sent in by the close of business last Friday, and pledged that Estrada would answer them by Tuesday, March 4. “He would answer the questions forthrightly, appropriately, and in a manner consistent with the traditional practice and obligations of judicial nominees, as he has before,” wrote White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales in a letter to all 100 senators.
As of Monday afternoon, the administration had not received any questions from any senators, according to administration sources.
The non-response from Democrats casts doubt on the party leadership’s repeated contentions that Democrats object to Estrada because he has failed to answer questions about his legal views. Sen. Tom Daschle, the minority leader, last month accused Estrada of “stonewalling” and said, “Our issue primarily is ensuring that we have the information upon which to base a decision on Mr. Estrada.”
Now, it is likely that Republicans will argue that when the White House gave Democrats the chance to ask any question of Estrada — something Democrats had said they dearly wanted — Democrats did not respond.
The administration has also said that Estrada will meet personally with any senator who requests a meeting.