Saturday, May 25, 2024

Civil Rights Leader Being Considered for Top CA Judicial Post

The Los Angeles Times, today, is reporting that Tom Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), is being considered by CA Gov. Jerry Brown for a position on the state’s Supreme Court.

Brown must appoint a successor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, the lone Latino on California’s highest court.  In addition to Saenz, three other Latinos, also are reported to be candidates including Southwestern Law School professor Christopher David Ruiz Cameron; Stanford Law School professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar; and state Court of Appeal Justice Maria P. Rivera.

Saenz, who has lead MALDEF since mid-2009 was a top advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and had been vetted by the Obama administration for a position at the Department of Justice.  A summa cum laude graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School, he clerked for U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

In his legal profession, Saenz is known for taking on a a number of key civil rights issues including challenging ordinances against day laborers, advocating in favor of affirmative action and leading employment discrimination lawsuits and redistricting battles.

Justice Moreno has called Saenz, “brilliant”, citing his ability to speak on complex constitutional issues knowledgably. “He has a high level of name recognition among Latinos in Southern California and among the civil rights community generally,” Moreno said.

According to sources, Brown has said he wants to appoint a successor to Moreno who is “in the mold of such historic state high court justices as Roger J. Traynor and Mathew Tobriner.”  Both individuals were legally creative jurists who, according to the Times, left strong marks on the law nationally.

Moreno, who was appointed to the California Supreme Court by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2001 announced his retirement earlier this year and leaves the bench on February 28.

Los Angeles Times