Hispanics disappointed by Breyer nomination

May 14, 1994|By Karen Hosler and Nelson Schwartz | Karen Hosler and Nelson Schwartz,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's choice yesterday of a white man to fill the Supreme Court vacancy provoked sharp disappointment among Hispanics who had hoped that their turn for representation on the high court had arrived.

"Many of us thought our crowning hour had come at last after such a long time of waiting," said Rep. Esteban E. Torres, a California Democrat. "Obviously, the president had other considerations."

The blow particularly hurt, they said, because the name of Jose A. Cabranes, a federal district judge in New Haven, Conn., had been floated early by White House officials as one candidate on Mr. Clinton's short list of potential nominees.

But Judge Cabranes was apparently never seriously considered by the president. His name was not among the three finalists over whom the president has been deliberating for the past week or so.

White House counsel Lloyd N. Cutler told reporters last night that Judge Cabranes, as a district court judge, had not had enough experience with the "agonizing" constitutional questions that reach the Supreme Court. He said Mr. Clinton has decided instead to elevate Judge Cabranes to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, where "he will have an opportunity to acquire that kind of experience."

When Gloria Molina, a Los Angeles County supervisor, urged Mr. Clinton in Washington this week to nominate a Hispanic to the high court, the president told her that the Hispanic community was not united sufficiently around one candidate.

"There were two or three qualified Hispanic candidates the president could have chosen," said Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Ms. Molina. "I know the supervisor will be very disappointed. But we're not going to give up. We're going to be even more insistent."

The growing influence of the Hispanic vote, especially in big electoral states such as California, Texas and Florida, has prompted talk of a Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court since the Bush administration.

Hispanics had great expectations for Mr. Clinton because he has made a big point of his interest in diversity in government. He has included two Hispanics in his Cabinet.

"It's sad that in the end [the Supreme court nomination] boiled down to three white males," said Juan A. Figueroa, president and general counsel of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. "We question the rhetoric about diversity and inclusion that sounds good but is not there. . . . The Latino voter will take this into account."

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