Dolores Huerta to Toomey: 'Do your job'
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has been getting a lot of heat lately, but he still won’t give an inch on the matter. The senator has been accused by several media outlets and organizations of holding up the confirmation of U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo.
And if, in the process, you've managed to enrage activist Dolores Huerta ... well, you better have a good excuse.
“Republicans are refusing to move forward on hearings and confirmation of Judge Restrepo. He is a highly experienced judge whose appointment would be historic for our community, and his confirmation would be a step forward for Latino representation in the courts,” wrote Huerta.
Toomey had long supported Judge Restrepo, who last November was nominated by President Obama to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which includes parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
But now six months later, Toomey is still withholding the so-called "blue slip" of the Judiciary Committee, the one that allows the nomination to move forward.
The first week of May the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) sent a letter to the senator urging Restrepo’s confirmation, and Pittsburgh’s City Council approved legislation that calls on Senator Toomey to return the blue slip.
However Toomey insists he is not withholding Restrepo’s confirmation. "I have made it clear to the committee that I plan to turn in my 'blue slip' — the formal manifestation of my support for Judge Restrepo — the day that investigation is completed, provided no issues of concern are discovered," Toomey wrote in an Op-ed published at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 13.
“Our community has to keep putting pressure on Republicans and call to their attention that they say they are pro-Latino, but again at the end of the day, when they can actually make a difference with a fully qualified judge that should be confirmed, they are holding him back,” Huerta said to AL DÍA. “Our community has to keep sending them emails and phone calls and tell them there is no excuse for this delay.”
The Huffington Post reported that there is a particular urgency to Restrepo’s confirmation. “The vacancy he would fill has become a ‘judicial emergency.’ That means the number of cases per panel of judges on that court exceeds 700, or is between 500 and 700 for more than 18 months. The more overloaded those judges get, the more delays there are in justice being carried out.”
‘We’ve got to elect someone that is going to work for our issues’
Huerta, perhaps the best-known Latina labor rights leader and social justice activist has been very outspoken in terms of what she believes “is at stake for Latinos" in the next presidential elections.
“Whomever gets elected to be the President of the United States is going to affect the lives of everyone in our country,” Huerta said to AL DÍA. “We got to elect someone that is going to work for our issues, somebody who is going to respect and support our community. We have to be very careful to be very informed in how we are going to be casting our votes. We know that the Latino vote is going to be decisive in this next presidential election.”
During her more than 50 years as an activist and community organizer, she said the movement was able to make strides and great changes, because of Latinos coming together. But to make the changes happen the community has to be engaged.
“We need organizers and people that can go in and organize the community to make them understand that they have a value and that they are important. We need them to be engaged because often times they feel like they don’t really matter and that they are not part of this country,” Huerta said.
The activist said in anticipation to the 2016 Presidential elections Latinos have the responsibility to inform themselves and see where the candidates stand on issues that are important to them.
“What they’ve said on immigration reform, what actions they’ve had in terms of the working people,” Huerta said. “Some of the candidates running for office are not supportive of the working people, they are anti-labor. We have to make sure that the people that we support, the people that we vote for, are going to be there for our community.”