When President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009, the appointment made headlines because of her credentials, including as a federal District Court judge, and her Latino heritage. But equal attention should be paid to the push to fill more than 70 appointment-for-life federal court vacancies in four heavily Latino states.
Federal court judges make decisions that directly impact the lives of Latinos, said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, during an event in Washington on the 2012 election and the Latino workforce.
Some of the vacancies are in states where Latinos make up nearly a third of the population, such as Texas (38 percent) and Arizona (30 percent). Nevada's population is 27 percent Latino, and Colorado's is 20 percent
Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, serving since her appointment by President Clinton in 2000, ruled that police in Arizona were clear to enforce the most controversial part of the "show me your papers" law, SB1070. In another significant ruling, a panel of federal judges deemed that Texas's political redistricting, passed by the Republican-led Legislature, discriminated against Hispanics and other minorities.