Biden nominates first Latino to serve on influential federal appeals court

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled seven new judicial nominees, including U.S. Justice Department official Bradley Garcia, who would become the first Latino to serve on the influential federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

Garcia, a veteran appellate lawyer and a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan now at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was nominated to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Biden also made his first nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by selecting U.S. Magistrate Judge Dana Douglas, a former partner at Liskow & Lewis, to be the first woman of color on the conservative New Orleans-based court.

Another nominee, Coppersmith Brockelman partner Roopali Desai in Arizona, if confirmed would become the first South Asian person to serve on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Coupled with four new nominees to serve on the district courts in Puerto Rico and Minnesota, Biden has in total announced 105 federal judicial nominees since taking office in January 2021, according to the White House.

The White House said the nominees continue fulfilling Biden’s pledge to diversify the federal bench, a vast majority of whom have been women, people of color or lawyers with backgrounds in civil rights and public defender work.

Garcia, who joined the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel as deputy assistant attorney general in February from O’Melveny & Myers, is Biden’s fourth nominee to the D.C. Circuit, which many view as second only in importance to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Its prominence is due to a docket filled with cases concerning government decisions and regulations. Three current Supreme Court justices served on it, as did Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Jackson was nominated by Biden to the D.C. Circuit last year. Two of Biden’s other D.C. Circuit nominees, U.S. District Judges J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan, are pending Senate confirmation.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has pressured Biden to nominate more Latinos the bench, a call it renewed after Biden’s last nomination to the D.C. Circuit, whose three picks to date were two Black women and one Asian American.

Garcia would succeed U.S. Circuit Judge Judith Rogers, an appointee of former Democratic President Bill Clinton who announced last month she planned to take senior status, a form of semi-retirement that creates vacancies presidents can fill.

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