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Nomination of Edward Prado for Judgeship

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am pleased we are going to move to the nomination of Judge Edward Prado. While my friend, the distinguished senior Senator from Ohio, is on the floor, I want to extend early congratulations because it appears that on Monday we are going to approve a judge on which he has worked so hard. Because of his advocacy and a number of others, we have been able to move through this circuit court process a little more quickly. The Senator from Ohio told me how much he thought of Judge Cook, and being the fine lawyer the Senator is, I am certain we are going to get a good addition to the court. His recommendation goes a long way with me. I congratulate the Senator from Ohio for his advocacy on the part of someone he knows and speaks so well of.

Mr. President, I am pleased we now are on the nomination of Judge Edward Prado, a well-qualified nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Prado is being considered for the same court as Justice Priscilla Owen, a nominee we on this side find to be a divisive choice for the circuit court. The swift consideration of Judge Prado's nomination illustrates again how the nomination process can work when the President sends up fairminded and mainstream choices for lifetime seats on our Federal bench. It happens quickly.

This came about as a result of our being involved in another judicial nomination that was not going anywhere, and on this side we moved to the nomination of Judge Prado. I think that and other reasons moved us along the path very quickly.

While some have decried the confirmation process is broken, certainly the numbers belie that charge. With the two district court judges confirmed before we recessed and Mr. Sutton on Tuesday, the number of confirmations has already risen to 120. This afternoon it will be 121. These numbers dwarf the confirmations achieved by my Republican colleagues under President Clinton.

Last year alone, in an election year, the Democratic-led Senate confirmed 72 judicial nominees, more than in any of the prior 6 years of Republican control. Overall, in the 17 months of Senate Democratic control, we were able to confirm 100 judges and vastly reduce judicial vacancies. We were able to do so despite the refusal of the administration to consult with Democrats on circuit court vacancies and many district court vacancies.

As I have indicated, if we confirm Judge Prado, which I am confident we will do, he will be the 121st judge. He will also be the 11th Latino judge serving in our circuit courts. Judge Prado is supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and many others.

I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus expressing their unanimous support be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

April 29, 2003.

Hon. BILL FRIST,

U.S. Senate Majority Leader,

U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

DEAR MAJORITY LEADER FRIST: On behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), we write today regarding Edward Charles Prado's nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Earlier this year, the CHC voted unanimously to endorse the nomination of Judge Prado. Subsequently, Judge Prado received the unanimous bipartisan support of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it is our understanding that Senate Democratic leadership has since asked that this non-controversial nomination be immediately called up for a vote.

Unfortunately, it is now being reported that Senate Republican leadership is holding up confirmation of Judge Prado as part of a political ploy to characterize Democratic opposition to certain individual judicial nominees as a Democratic assault on women and minorities. If this in fact is the case, then it is reprehensible that the Senate Republican leadership would engage in such offensive and malicious tactics for mere political gain.

It is ironic that although Judge Prado has received bipartisan and unanimous support so far, Republican leadership has not yet allowed the full Senate a final vote on his nomination. Intentionally delaying a vote on this nomination casts doubt on the sincerity of Republican rhetoric about supporting and confirming qualified Hispanic judges.

Furthermore, it would be a travesty for Judge Prado, a qualified and respected Hispanic judicial nominee, to fall victim to a disingenuous politically motivated campaign to label Democrats as anti-minority by highlighting Democratic opposition to a select few while ignoring Democratic support for the vast majority of President Bush's Hispanic judicial nominees.

President Bush's nominations of Jose Martinez to a District Court in Florida, Jose Linares to a District Court in New Jersey, Christina Armijo to a District Court in New Mexico, James Otero to a District Court in California, as well as Alia Ludlum, Philip Martinez, and Randy Crane to District Courts in Texas all received Democratic support and all were confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In addition to Judge Prado, another pending Hispanic judicial nominee, Cecilia Altonaga of Florida, is also expected to be confirmed by the Senate with Democratic support.

Clearly, Senate Democrats have displayed a willingness to support President Bush's Hispanic nominees, and any assertions to the contrary are unnecessary and counterproductive to efforts to increase diversity on our Nation's federal courts.

As you know, the judicial nomination process is important to the CHC because we believe that our Nation's courts should reflect the diversity of thought and action that enrich America. To that extent, we established the Hispanic Judiciary Initiative to further formalize our involvement in this issue by establishing a set of evaluation criteria and an internal process for endorsing nominees. Since its inception the CHC Hispanic Judiciary Initiative has worked to improve diversity within the federal judiciary. For this effort to be hindered due to political maneuvering, absent concern for the best interest of the Hispanic community, is both irresponsible and neglectful.

Once again, we believe that Judge Prado's qualifications and distinguished career in law, as well as his dedication to the Hispanic community make him a judicial nominee deserving of confirmation. We respectfully urge you to schedule a vote to conform Edward Charles Prado to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit without any further delay.

             Sincerely,

             Ciro D. Rodriguez,
             Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus

             Charles A. Gonzalez,
             Chair, CHC Hispanic Judiciary Initiative.

Mr. REED. Judge Prado has served 19 years in the United States district court. As some of my colleagues have noted, it is sometimes more challenging to review nominees who come to us from private practice and universities. We have to extrapolate from their record in those different roles as to how they would perform as a judge. With Judge Prado, we certainly do not have that problem. We know how he has performed as a judge.

With the nomination of Priscilla Owen, the same applies. We have the Priscilla Owen and Judge Prado judicial records we can directly evaluate. In the case of Justice Owen, it is a record many on our side find troubling. If all the Members had been present today, it would have been 47 people voting against cloture.

In the case of Judge Prado, it is a record we find evinces an evenhandedness and fairness befitting a circuit court judge. Not that I would decide every case the way Judge Prado has—I would not—but overall he has won the support of all Democratic Senators, as far as I know, on the Judiciary Committee, and other Democratic Senators, because they found his record one of balance and fairness. Unlike Justice Owen and Mr. Estrada, no colleague or supervisor has questioned his ability to apply the law faithfully. Unlike Justice Owen and Mr. Estrada, no single person or organization has submitted a letter of concern or opposition to Judge Prado's nomination.

Judge Prado has generated no controversy. He is experienced. While I am sure he is conservative, it does not matter; He is an evenhanded judge.

There is something to be said for conservative judges. If conservatism means the law is followed, stare decisis, the precedent set, I think that is good.

Judge Prado will be confirmed today because he is a fine person and an excellent judge. As I have noted in the past, eight of the sitting Latino judges were appointed by President Clinton. Several of these judges were denied Senate consideration for years while the Republicans controlled the Senate. Judge Richard Paez, nominee for the Ninth Circuit, waited over 1,500 days. He was well qualified, had the support of his hometown Senators, and 39 Republicans voted against his nomination. There is nothing wrong with that. They had different views as to how he would serve as a judge.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a nominee to the Second Circuit, was similarly stalled. Her confirmation took 433 days. Then there were the Hispanic nominees who were denied hearings or votes by Republicans during the Clinton administration: Jorge Rangel, Enrique Moreno, Christine Arguello, Richard Morado, Anabelle Rodriquez.

These facts and the expected confirmation of Judge Prado belie the anti-Hispanic charges some have made in the context of the Estrada debate. The extended debate Democrats have sought to have on just a handful of judicial nominees affects our constitutional advice and consent duty.

While the number of judges who have been confirmed demonstrates our good faith in working with our colleagues and the President, we will not simply rubberstamp ideologically driven individuals for lifetime seats on our Federal courts.

I am pleased that today we are moving forward on this qualified judge, Edward Prado. I believe the way Judge Prado's nomination has been received in the Senate points the way through some of the conflict that has occurred in the Senate over a very small number of judicial nominees.

If my math is correct, by today's end there will be 121 versus 2. That is a good record in anyone's book.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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