Sen. Durbin Used Race to Block “Especially Dangerous” Latino Judicial Nominee
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin has a lot of nerve to accuse Republicans of racism for delaying President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General considering he’s the only sitting senator who actually opposed a candidate specifically because of race. In fact, the veteran lawmaker referred to the judicial nominee as “especially dangerous” for, among other things, being “Latino.”
Additionally, Durbin has voted against several Republican presidential nominees who also happened to be ethnic minorities—Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American female Secretary of State. Durbin, who has represented Illinois in Congress since 1997, most certainly was never accused of being a racist for making those choices.
Over a decade ago an inner office memorandum from Senator Durbin’s office that was not intended to be made public referred to a George W. Bush judicial nominee, Miguel Estrada, like this; “especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.” Following a two-year confirmation battle, Estrada withdrew his name from consideration. But the fact remains that Durbin used race as a reason to nix his appointment. Back in 2003 Judicial Watch filed a formal complaint against Durbin with the Senate Ethics Committee, which not surprisingly, took no action.
In the ethics complaint JW points out that Durbin improperly developed and engaged in a racially-motivated scheme to obstruct the confirmation of judges at the behest of political interest groups. “Denying confirmation to a judicial nominee because of his ethnicity is an outrageous act that brings enormous disgrace upon Senator Durbin and the U.S. Senate,” JW’s complaint reads. It goes on to state that Durbin’s opposition of Estrada because he’s Latino raises the specter that he also opposed judicial candidate Janice Rogers Brown because she is black.
“Senator Durbin’s racially-motivated actions and those of his agents to prevent the confirmation of Mr. Estrada bring enormous discredit upon both the Senator and the U.S. Senate,” JW further states in the 2003 complaint. “Senator Durbin has compromised his integrity, violated his oath of office, may have violated the law, and undermined the trust and confidence of the American people in their government and the U.S. Senate.” JW also requested an investigation of the matter, but the notoriously inept ethics committee blew the whole thing off.
Fast-forward to present-day kabuki theater at the nation’s capital and the script features the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat accusing Republicans of making Obama’s choice to be the nation’s next Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, “sit in the back of the bus.” Lynch would be the country’s first black female attorney general and, quick to play the race card, Durbin was clearly making a reference to Rosa Parks, a black civil rights activist who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus during segregation in the 1950s.