The United States Senate has voted to confirm Bradley N. Garcia to the Washington Circuit Court of Appeals, making him the first Latino to hold the seat in its 200-year history, Roll Call reported Monday.
Garcia, now 36, was also the youngest candidate for the circuit court before being confirmed by President Joe Biden. In a 53-40 vote, Garcia earned bipartisan approval before his confirmation.
“Latinos have historically been underrepresented in the federal judiciary,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schummer, a Democrat, said in a speech before senators voted.
“So confirming the first Latino in the history of the second supreme court is a long overdue step for the federal judiciary to think better.”
During the hearing, Garcia fielded questions from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was in front of him – a persistent opponent of the nominations of Biden and the stimulus of the Democratic party in the Senate – doubting Garcia about his judicial experience: “You have never worked as a judge.” Cruz Garcia said at the hearing.
Garcia’s 12-year career includes clerking for Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, clerking for Justice Thomas B. Griffith on the same Court for which he was confirmed, and a stint as a Justice Department official.
“What I can talk about is my testimony. And in my career I have argued more than fifty appeals, I have argued 13 of them,” Garcia Cruz said, according to a Roll Call report.
“I stand before you today as Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice,” he said.
With the advocacy of legal authority
The Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF), a group that supported Garcia’s nomination, wrote a letter to the Senate in November in line for Garcia to serve on the federal judiciary.
“Mr. Garcia has demonstrated his commitment to civil rights and access to justice throughout his legal career,” the letter said. MALDEF is a legal organization at the forefront of the national movement to monitor Latin law.
Last year, MALDEF defended nearly-constant Latino voter dissident efforts in Arizona after the state legislature passed a proposal to impose severe restrictions and penalties on voter registration.
In its letter, MALDEF included the inequity of Garcia’s appointment, citing a lack of diverse judges in the federal courts.
“Although Latinos have been the largest racial minority group for nearly two decades, a Latino has never been on the DC Circuit,” the second highest court in the United States, he said.
“The case is important because of the importance and nature of the myriad cases that appear on his docket, including many that touch on the role the federal government plays in our lives and in our communities. In confirming Mr. Garcia, the Senate Circuit will complete a historic birth.”
The Justice League, a national progressive organization with 150 groups under its umbrella, also confirmed Garcia’s nomination to the Hispanic National Bar Association.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is known for its legal weight. It is one of the largest courts in the town, second only to the Supreme Court.
The Circuit Court docket is not uncommonly filled with thousands of cases with legal implications across the country, involving issues of national security, gun safety, food safety, labor law, election law and clean air regulations.
The presiding judges are predominantly conservative, and the appointment of Garcia, given the degree of diversity on their benches, will not change the ideological makeup much.
Former Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the last judge appointed to the court, leaving his seat vacant after he was confirmed to be the most powerful court in the land.
MALDEF also argues that García’s design marked progress in other aspects, such as restoring confidence in courts that were more representative of popular national populations.
“Representation is essential to public confidence in the government. When people see members of their community as elected officials, judges, and other influential positions, they are more likely to participate in and trust the democratic process.” letter MALDEF he said.
Other justices who rose to the Supreme Court from the Court of Appeals include Chief Justice John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Thomas Clarence, John Roberts, and Brett Kavanaugh.