Explaining his nomination of Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to the California Supreme Court at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jerry Brown emphasized Cuéllar’s academic credentials and noted that he was “not unaware” of California’s diversity as he decided whom to appoint.
“When 50 percent of the kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are of Latin descent, it’s important that they see, in all of the positions of power, people who they identify with,” Brown said. “So that’s a thought. But I would also point out that this is a very accomplished individual.”
If confirmed, Cuéllar, a law professor at Stanford, would become the court’s only Latino justice and the first Latino immigrant justice in its history. Carlos Moreno, who was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Belize in May, was the court’s only Latino justice when he retired in 2011.
Cuéllar has a law degree from Yale Law School and a doctorate in political science from Stanford, where he has taught since 2001. He has also worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations on immigration policy, regulatory transparency, food safety standards and public health.
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Cuéllar has never before served as a judge. At the press conference, Brown said he was not concerned and listed off famous California and U.S. Supreme Court justices who had no bench experience when they assumed office.
Brown added that he was pleased to have appointed a Mexican-born justice a few days before he leads a trade delegation to Mexico.