LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the following statement in response to the Biden Administration’s latest slate of judicial nominees to the federal bench that once again overlooks the Latino community:
“Today, the Biden Administration chose yet again to send a harsh message of exclusion to the Latino community when it filled vacancies on three federal circuit courts of appeal that have each never had a Latino or Latina judge in their entire histories. President Biden’s refusal to take any opportunity to break these historical barriers for the Latino community, despite numerous very well-qualified potential Latino nominees and despite Latinos now accounting for one in five Americans, epitomizes the ongoing shabby treatment of the Latino community in Biden’s judicial nominations.
“More specifically, this is the third time that President Biden has refused to appoint a Latino or Latina to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the second most important federal court in the land because it addresses so many issues of national law and regulation. The D.C. Circuit is also often the source of nominees to the Supreme Court, as most recently with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. MALDEF has raised the historical total exclusion of the Latino community from this court from the very beginning of the Biden administration. But President Biden apparently simply does not care. The Sixth and Seventh Circuits have also never in their histories had a Latino or Latina judge. Meanwhile, the Latino community continues to grow in prominence in every area of the country. Despite a pronounced undercount of the Latino community, Latinos accounted for over 51 percent of the nation’s total population growth according to the 2020 Census. Latinos have been the nation’s largest racial minority group for almost 20 years. Illinois, the seat of the Seventh Circuit, would have lost population over the last decade but for Latinos, who now make up over 18 percent of the state. But President Biden apparently simply does not care.
“In terms of the Administration’s total set of federal lifetime judicial appointments, Latinos have received about 20 percent of the Biden nominations; that is equivalent to the Latino proportion of the nation’s total population. That is an important achievement, but not a significant contribution to addressing the historic extreme underrepresentation of Latinos in the federal judiciary. It means President Biden has stopped digging the hole for Latinos, but has done nothing to fill in the hole. By marked contrast, President Biden has nominated Blacks, Asian Americans, and Native Americans to the federal bench in proportions that are two to four times each group’s proportion of the national population. This represents a real effort and real accomplishment in addressing the longtime underrepresentation of these groups in our federal judiciary. That is quite laudable, but the question is why does President Biden seem to believe Latinos are the only racial minority group that does not warrant, merit, or deserve such efforts to make a serious contribution to remedying historic underrepresentation. This is now a sustained pattern showing that only Latinos have not received nominations in proportions that are multiples of population parity. But President Biden apparently simply does not care.
“The timing of today’s announcement is also disturbing. Yesterday, 19 children were murdered at a Texas elementary school with an overwhelmingly Latino student body. Yet, President Biden chose today to teach Latino schoolchildren nationwide that they should stem their future ambitions because he at least does not believe that they warrant inclusion on the nation’s most important federal courts. Inexplicable timing, but President Biden apparently simply does not care. Indeed, all of this Administration’s judicial nominations have come in the midst of a pandemic in which, according to the latest CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data, Latinos have had the highest death rates and the highest case rates, in both cases only exceeded by Native Americans. Historical exclusion aside, this recent demonstration of extreme loss and sacrifice would seem to warrant consideration in making judicial nominations. But President Biden apparently simply does not care.
“The Latino community now understands the race-defined endpoint of Joe Biden’s signature empathy. But if you explicitly and consistently demonstrate that you do not care about Latinos, you should not expect them to care about you when it comes time to vote. President Biden’s judicial nominations have plainly compromised his reelection prospects.”