Dear Senator Daschle

Although I am not a resident of your state, I am a Democrat. My parents and grandparents were also Democrats. As a Democrat, I am very concerned about the filibusters that you, as Senate Minority Leader, led against President Bush's federal court nominations of Miguel Estrada, Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Attorney General William Pryor.

It is my understanding that Senate Democrats demanded the release of memoranda written by Miguel Estrada while he served in the Solicitor General's Office. I have read that this was an unprecedented demand and that this demand was not made during the confirmation hearings of others that served in this same capacity and who now serve on the federal bench.

If I were an employer who set different requirements for a minority applicant, I would violate the laws protecting equal employment opportunites. These laws were strongly backed by our Party because of our unwavering commitment to equality. Years ago, the entire Congress agreed to be governed by the laws it has passed. How is it that Senators from our Party set different requirements for Miguel Estrada, thus abandoning our commitment to equality and violating, in principle, the laws governing equal employment opportunities? When Mr. Estrada asked to have his nomination withdrawn, it was a dark day for the principles in which so many Democrats believe.

In the case of Justice Janice Rogers Brown, you have stated your reason for blocking her confirmation vote is because she is not in the judicial "mainstream." The last time she stood for election, in 1998, seventy—six percent of California voters decided to reelect State Supreme Court Justice Brown. It was the highest retention percentage of any Justice in that election. Clearly, she received the votes of Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals. Someone who receives over three—quarters of the votes in our largest state is by definition in the mainstream.

Justice Brown is an African American who was born into a poor sharecropper family in a segregated state. Her lifelong struggles and achievements are a testimony to both civil rights and equal opportunity. Reverend King dreamed of a day when African Americans would be judged by the "content of their character." The fact that you do not judge Justice Brown by her character is a form of political slavery which should be repugnant to all Americans.

Last February, President Bush used a recess appointment to place William Pryor on the federal bench. Nevertheless, I remain very troubled by your reason for blocking his confirmation vote. You said you had a problem with his beliefs. The Constitution requires that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.' It seems that your beliefs are the ones that should be questioned.

On several occasions, you have used the 1968 filibuster of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to justify your behavior. There are a number of details you always neglect to mention. President Johnson was trying to elevate him to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It was discovered that he had lied to the Senate Judicial Committee. A sufficient number of both Democrats and Republicans blocked his confirmation vote because he had lied. This unique situation is far different than your attempt to politically block confirmation votes with forty or more Democrats and no Republicans. By the way, Justice Fortas resigned from the Supreme Court the very next year when another one of his indiscretions was discovered.

I have read the Constitution of the United States and its words regarding this matter seem very clear to me. All Senators are bound by their Oath or Affirmation to recognize the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. It is the President's responsibility to nominate candidates to the federal courts. It is the Senate's responsibility to advise the President and consent or deny their appointment by a majority vote.

Under the current organization of the Senate, the Judicial Committee advises the President on the qualifications and character of a nominee. If the nominee is acceptable, the committee recommends the nominee to the floor of the Senate for consent by majority vote. How can over forty Senate Democrats use the filibuster rule of the Senate to prevent a vote and circumvent the Constitution without breaking their word to recognize the Constitution as the law of the land?

Since the Constitution requires the Senate to either confirm or deny a nominee to the federal bench by majority vote, it seems evident to me that all those who are nominated have a Constitutional Right to a vote by the full Senate. No political party should ever deny the rights of any citizen. And certainly, the leadership of the Democratic Party should always act in a fair manner towards any minority nominee. How can Senate Democrats possibly justify their actions?

Senator Daschle, you are running for Reelection to the Senate. You have openly broken your oath to support the Constitution as the rule of law. You have tried to circumvent the Constitution through the unconstitutional use of a Senate rule. How can you, in good faith, ask the people of South Dakota to return you to the Senate?

Although I am not a resident of your state, I am a Democrat. My parents and grandparents were also Democrats. As a Democrat, I am very concerned about the filibusters that you, as Senate Minority Leader, led against President Bush's federal court nominations of Miguel Estrada, Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Attorney General William Pryor.

It is my understanding that Senate Democrats demanded the release of memoranda written by Miguel Estrada while he served in the Solicitor General's Office. I have read that this was an unprecedented demand and that this demand was not made during the confirmation hearings of others that served in this same capacity and who now serve on the federal bench.

If I were an employer who set different requirements for a minority applicant, I would violate the laws protecting equal employment opportunites. These laws were strongly backed by our Party because of our unwavering commitment to equality. Years ago, the entire Congress agreed to be governed by the laws it has passed. How is it that Senators from our Party set different requirements for Miguel Estrada, thus abandoning our commitment to equality and violating, in principle, the laws governing equal employment opportunities? When Mr. Estrada asked to have his nomination withdrawn, it was a dark day for the principles in which so many Democrats believe.

In the case of Justice Janice Rogers Brown, you have stated your reason for blocking her confirmation vote is because she is not in the judicial "mainstream." The last time she stood for election, in 1998, seventy—six percent of California voters decided to reelect State Supreme Court Justice Brown. It was the highest retention percentage of any Justice in that election. Clearly, she received the votes of Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals. Someone who receives over three—quarters of the votes in our largest state is by definition in the mainstream.

Justice Brown is an African American who was born into a poor sharecropper family in a segregated state. Her lifelong struggles and achievements are a testimony to both civil rights and equal opportunity. Reverend King dreamed of a day when African Americans would be judged by the "content of their character." The fact that you do not judge Justice Brown by her character is a form of political slavery which should be repugnant to all Americans.

Last February, President Bush used a recess appointment to place William Pryor on the federal bench. Nevertheless, I remain very troubled by your reason for blocking his confirmation vote. You said you had a problem with his beliefs. The Constitution requires that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.' It seems that your beliefs are the ones that should be questioned.

On several occasions, you have used the 1968 filibuster of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to justify your behavior. There are a number of details you always neglect to mention. President Johnson was trying to elevate him to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It was discovered that he had lied to the Senate Judicial Committee. A sufficient number of both Democrats and Republicans blocked his confirmation vote because he had lied. This unique situation is far different than your attempt to politically block confirmation votes with forty or more Democrats and no Republicans. By the way, Justice Fortas resigned from the Supreme Court the very next year when another one of his indiscretions was discovered.

I have read the Constitution of the United States and its words regarding this matter seem very clear to me. All Senators are bound by their Oath or Affirmation to recognize the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. It is the President's responsibility to nominate candidates to the federal courts. It is the Senate's responsibility to advise the President and consent or deny their appointment by a majority vote.

Under the current organization of the Senate, the Judicial Committee advises the President on the qualifications and character of a nominee. If the nominee is acceptable, the committee recommends the nominee to the floor of the Senate for consent by majority vote. How can over forty Senate Democrats use the filibuster rule of the Senate to prevent a vote and circumvent the Constitution without breaking their word to recognize the Constitution as the law of the land?

Since the Constitution requires the Senate to either confirm or deny a nominee to the federal bench by majority vote, it seems evident to me that all those who are nominated have a Constitutional Right to a vote by the full Senate. No political party should ever deny the rights of any citizen. And certainly, the leadership of the Democratic Party should always act in a fair manner towards any minority nominee. How can Senate Democrats possibly justify their actions?

Senator Daschle, you are running for Reelection to the Senate. You have openly broken your oath to support the Constitution as the rule of law. You have tried to circumvent the Constitution through the unconstitutional use of a Senate rule. How can you, in good faith, ask the people of South Dakota to return you to the Senate?