Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) voted yesterday to uphold a Democratic filibuster against judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, drawing criticism from Republicans.
Graham, who is running for president, called on Estrada to provide senators with more information so they can evaluate his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
A three-term senator who could choose to seek reelection next year, Graham has struggled over whether to support Estrada, a Honduran immigrant who would become the first Hispanic on the court if confirmed. Democratic senators have staged a filibuster to keep the nomination from coming to a vote. The Republican majority tried to end the delay yesterday but was five votes short of the 60 necessary to cut off debate.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel R. Martinez issued a statement urging Graham to reconsider his position. Martinez is weighing whether to run for Graham's seat next year, according to published reports.
"The senator's vote today is not in keeping with his long tradition of being supportive of the interest of Hispanics," said Martinez, a Republican. "The action he took is not representative of his Florida constituents."
Graham's vote also drew fire from Florida Republican Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan and Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican who wants to replace Graham. Foley called the vote "a slap in the face to the Hispanic community."
The Senate confirmed Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, in a 74 to 19 vote.