President Joe Biden plans to nominate a Justice Department lawyer and former Big Law appellate litigator as the first Latino on the powerful federal appeals court in Washington.
Bradley Garcia, 35, selected on Wednesday for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is a deputy assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.
The Harvard Law graduate and former clerk to Justice Elena Kagan was also a partner in the the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group at O’Melveny and Myers.
Garcia was among Biden’s three circuit and four district nominees who included Magistrate Judge Dana Douglas. She’s ticketed to become the first woman of color on the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit.
Biden also picked Jerry W. Blackwell, a private attorney, for a trial court seat in the District of Minnesota. Blackwell was a special assistant state attorney general for the prosecution of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
In addition, the White House said Coppersmith Brockelman partner Roopali Desai would be nominated to become the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit’s first South Asian judge.
Pressure for Latino
Garcia’s nomination comes after calls by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund for Biden to name the court’s first Latino or Latina. MALDEF President Thomas A. Saenz, who in May condemned what he called Biden’s “exclusion” of Latinos in nominations to circuit courts, urged the Senate to swiftly confirm Garcia.
“We hope this is the beginning of breaking down other exclusions faced by the Latino community, including addressing the current absence of any active Latino or Latina judge on three other circuit courts serving significant Latino populations,” Saenz said in noting the Fifth, Seventh and Tenth circuits.
The DC Circuit is a chief venue for cases involving government agencies and Congress and has been a springboard for the Supreme Court.
Douglas, who wold fill a Louisiana seat on the Fifth Circuit, is one of few nominees Biden has picked for vacancies in states with two Republican senators. Neither lawmaker gave much indication in statements about how they viewed her nomination.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which reviews nominees, said he enjoyed meeting with Douglas and looked forward to getting to know her more in coming weeks. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said it’s “clear that she is an active member in her legal community and has decades of experience in the federal court system.”
Douglas has been a magistrate judge on the the Eastern District of Louisiana since 2019 and was previously a partner at Liskow & Lewis.
Three of the planned trial court picks would fill all of the current vacancies on the District of Puerto Rico if confirmed. They were:
- María del R. Antongiorgi-Jordán, clerk of court for the District of Puerto Rico;
- Judge Gina R. Méndez-Miró, a judge on the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals; and,
- Camille L. Vélez-Rivé, a District of Puerto Rico magistrate judge.