LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK – The Biden Administration today announced its first set of judicial nominations — 11 individuals to serve as federal judges on district or appellate courts. The list of nominees, however, includes only one Latina.
Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), and Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice/PRLDEF issued the following joint statement on today’s announcement:
“Many progressives, whose work we certainly admire, are today issuing paeans to the Biden Administration for the public announcement of its first set of judicial nominations. Despite the inclusion of many well-qualified nominees, we must regrettably issue a vociferous and vocal dissent.
“We are extremely disappointed that the President included only one member of the Latino community in this first set of nominees to our federal courts. This level of underrepresentation is utterly unacceptable when Latinos have been the largest minority group in this country since 2003, and when Latino voters are as responsible as any group of voters for Biden’s close electoral victory. Moreover, one measure of the nation’s Latino future lies in the fact that greater than one in four of all public elementary and secondary school students nationwide today is Latino. Finally, Latinos are disproportionately represented among those drawn into the federal criminal justice system.
“As the nation’s largest minority group, with substantial projected growth nationwide, Latinos have been playing and will play an increasing role in our nation’s legal system, litigating many of the most important legal issues that will arise across the country in every area of law. There is no excuse for perpetuating the exclusion of Latino jurists from the federal bench. Five of the 13 federal circuit courts of appeals have no Latino or Latina active judges, and the all-important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has never had a Latino or Latina judge in its entire history.
“Unfortunately, today’s extreme underrepresentation of Latinos follows the Biden Administration’s earlier public announcement of leadership of the Department of Justice that notably included not a single Latino or Latina. Today’s public rollout of judicial nominations in the expectation of unalloyed praise simply demonstrates the Administration’s apparent obtuseness about the importance of the Latino community in the nation’s legal system.
“As the leaders of the nation’s two largest Latino legal civil rights organizations, we can no longer accept the implicit perpetuation of the fallacy that the Latino community may be forever denied a prominent role in the federal judicial system. Despite his record-breaking number of judicial appointments, Donald Trump appointed only one member of the Latino community to any court of appeals anywhere in the country. We expect the Biden Administration to do substantially better than its predecessor, but today’s announcement is not encouraging as far as the Latino community is concerned.”