July 22, 2005

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Responds to Roberts Nomination to Supreme Court

Washington, DC –  Following President George W. Bush nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) expressed disappointment that the President did not nominate a Latino to fill the seat to be vacated by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  The CHC previously called on the President to fill the vacancy with a qualified Hispanic dedicated to equal justice and a judicial system that is fair to the Latino community.

“The CHC offers its sincere congratulations to John G. Roberts on his nomination to the Supreme Court.  This is a great honor that he and his family should be immensely proud of,” said Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, CHC chair.  “However, we are disappointed that the White House bowed to pressure from right-wing interest groups and their mean-spirited attacks, and failed to take advantage of this opportunity to make a historic appointment of a Latino to a position of such importance to the lives of so many people.”

“While we are disappointed that the President overlooked several qualified Hispanic candidates, we will proceed with our plan to evaluate the nominee’s record on issues important to the Latino community and determine in due course whether he deserves our support,” said Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, chair of the CHC Civil Rights Task Force.

Following established criteria, the CHC will examine any nominee’s record of commitment to equal justice and right of access to the courts, his support for Congress’ constitutional authority to pass civil rights legislation, and his efforts in support of protecting employment, immigrant and voting rights, as well as educational and political access for all Americans.

While the CHC’s judicial nominee evaluation criteria were originally designed to help identify qualified Latinos to serve on federal courts, the CHC has decided to evaluate any nominee to the Supreme Court because of the enormous impact the Court’s decisions have on the nation’s growing Hispanic community.

Past Supreme Court rulings on the rights of immigrant workers, voting rights, affirmative action policies at colleges and universities, and bilingual education have had long-lasting and far-reaching affects on the lives of Latino families.  Many of these rulings have been decided by one vote. 

Immediately following Justice O’Connor’s retirement announcement, the CHC offered to work with President Bush to identify a qualified Hispanic nominee for the Supreme Court, and also urged the President to consult with Senators from both parties stating, “Not only is this consistent with the advice and consent clause of the U.S. Constitution, but also with the bipartisan agreement among Senators that resolved the filibuster controversy.”

“Any nominee, whether Hispanic or not, must understand the historic role the Supreme Court has played in the lives of minorities. It is our hope that Judge Roberts will prove to be committed to the core constitutional principles of equal protection and due process, and be sensitive to the laws that have opened doors for Hispanics and all minorities in this country,” said Congressman Linda T. Sánchez, vice chair of the CHC Civil Rights Task Force. “Furthermore, should another Supreme Court vacancy occur during President Bush’s term, we hope that the President will more strongly consider nominating a qualified Hispanic candidate to fill that seat, and we look forward to working with him to find that person.”

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