Arkansas' junior senator, Mark Pryor, never seems so junior, or so transparent, as when he when he goes after his GOP colleagues for -- gasp! -- playing politics with judicial nominations.
This time Republican senators are holding up the confirmation of a perfectly good, indeed outstanding, Arkansas judge for the federal bench: Denzil Price Marshall. Among some 80 other nominations to the federal bench. But two months after the judge's nomination sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously, it still languishes. How come?
Low partisan politics, says Sen. Pryor. With indignation. As if it were something novel and shocking to his innocent sensibilities. "There's just no place for this in the Senate," he huffs. "There's no place just to play partisan political games with these judicial appointments, especially if you have someone who is very well qualified and very uncontroversial, which we have in Price Marshall."
The junior senator is shocked, shocked!
It's as if Mark Pryor had forgotten the name Miguel Estrada. Some of us never will: That rising young star was more than very well qualified for an appointment to the federal bench; he was being talked about as a future Supreme Court judge, and he had the makings of a great one.
The Honduran-born Estrada, who arrived in this country as a 17-year-old with only a limited command of English, not only had intellect but hard-won experience to recommend him. Having graduated magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, he'd served with John Roberts -- yes, that John Roberts, who is now chief justice of the United States Supreme Court -- in the solicitor general's office. He'd handled appellate cases there with the same remarkable skill and personal integrity he'd shown with the district attorney's office in New York.
It was only to be expected that Counselor Estrada would be proposed for the federal appellate bench -- and the influential court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit at that. As he was in 2001. Hey, it's America. And the American dream. It was about to be fulfilled.
Ah, but Sr./Mr. Estrada has another, even historic, distinction that needs recalling every time Mark Pryor starts posing as a statesman. Miguel Estrada's was the first nomination to a U.S. court of appeals to be successfully filibustered in the U.S. Senate.