A Stanford law professor who was born in Mexico and immigrated to California as a teenager has been selected as the next nominee to the state’s Supreme Court. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.
Governor Jerry Brown has named Stanford Law Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to replace retiring Justice Marvin Baxter. Cuellar has been at Stanford since 2001. He also assisted President Barack Obama on immigration issues during the Obama transition into office.
UC Davis Law School Dean Kevin Johnson has known Cuellar for several years and calls him intelligent, funny and respectful, though not afraid to disagree. He says Cuellar’s life experience will help him on the bench.
Johnson: “He’s worked in the political arena in immigration, he’s lived the immigrant experience and he’s familiar with the law of immigration. And I think that will add significantly to his role on the Supreme Court because these issues come up rather regularly now-a-days.”
Cuellar has never been a judge. Johnson says while it’s become common to appoint lower court judges to higher court positions, he says, historically, a range of people have been appointed to the judiciary.
If approved by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Cuellar must then be approved by voters in November. Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson says Cuellar is a strong candidate, who also happens to fulfill some political objectives for the Governor.
Levinson: “This nomination actually I think is in keeping with Governor Brown’s push to increase diversity on the court, whether it be on appellant level or on the highest appellant level, the California Supreme Court.”
If elected, Cuellar will begin a 12-year term in January.