After spending weeks blocking Department of Homeland Security funding and months holding up Loretta Lynch’s nomination for Attorney General in order to protest President Obama’s executive actions that shield DREAMers and their families from deportation, Republicans seem to have found another way to turn what used to be bipartisan work into a partisan tool to attack Obama and his support for the Latino community.  

This time, Republicans are refusing to move forward on hearings and confirmation of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, even though he is supremely qualified to fill this much-needed appointment.  

Restrepo is a highly experienced judge whose appointment would be historic for our community. As a public defender in Philadelphia, he provided legal representation for people who could not afford to hire a lawyer. And as a federal magistrate judge, he led a program that helped formerly incarcerated people get the education and job training they needed to have a successful life after prison.  


Restrepo’s confirmation would be a step forward for Latino representation in the courts. As an immigrant from Columbia who became a citizen over 20 years ago, he would be the first Latino judge from Pennsylvania to serve on the 3rd  Circuit Court and only the second Latino judge ever to serve on that court. Across the country, Latinos are severely underrepresented on circuit courts.  

Republicans and Democrats alike agree that Restrepo is the right choice to be the next 3rd Circuit judge. Both Pennsylvania senators, Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyOn the Money — Inflation hits highest level in decades Pressures aligning on Biden, Democrats to forgive student loans Senate Democrats grow less confident in Manchin MORE, came out strongly in favor of Restrepo when Obama nominated him.  But reports are now circulating that Sen. Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleySmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill MORE (R-Iowa), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is refusing to move forward on the nomination because Toomey has not given his approval in the form of a document called a “blue slip.”  It’s time for Toomey to end this nonsensical dilly dallying over Restrepo’s confirmation.

Conservatives like Curt Levey have suggested  that blocking judicial nominees could be a successful under-the-radar attempt to pressure Obama to roll back his immigration actions. He said, “There is little risk of the public outrage” if Republicans use judicial nominations like that of Restrepo as “leverage” on the president’s executive actions. But we won’t let Toomey, Grassley, Levey, or the GOP get away with that.  

It’s not only harmful for Republicans to refuse to confirm a judge as well qualified as Restrepo, it also sends the message yet again that Republicans don’t care about the priorities of our community. Latinos deserve better representation on influential courts, and there’s no good reason for Toomey and his Republican allies to continue to hold up Restrepo’s confirmation. It’s high time for them to get to work and confirm the exceedingly qualified L. Felipe Restrepo to be the next judge on the 3rd Circuit Court.

Huerta is a civil rights leader and serves on the board of People For the American Way.