LOS ANGELES – California Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced the elevation of Justice Patricia Guerrero to Chief Justice of the state’s highest court.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the following statement in response to the elevation of Justice Guerrero, who will be the first Latina to serve in that role.

“MALDEF congratulates Governor Newsom and Justice Guerrero on this historic announcement.  As 40 percent of the state’s population and constituting the largest racial/ethnic group in the state since 2014, Latinos have earned through extraordinary contributions during the pandemic as well as through many decades before, fair representation in the top tier of leadership in California.  Justice Guerrero’s career warrants this leadership post.

“At the same time, we urge Governor Newsom to commit now to break the ‘brown ceiling’ in his second term – the historic and continuing limitation of the Latino community to one justice at a time on the Supreme Court.  By naming a non-Latino to Justice Guerrero’s seat when she is elevated to chief justice, Newsom has perpetuated that inexplicable limitation.  Three other racial groups – whites, Asian Americans, and Blacks – have historically held at least two positions (soon each will have held three seats at one time) on the California Supreme Court at one time.  Only Latinos have been limited to the lonely position of being the one and only.  That historical limitation must end as Latinos have now been the largest racial group in California for eight years, since surpassing whites in 2014.”