December 30, 2013
Among the many new laws that take effect Wednesday is one that allows the Supreme Court to admit to California law practice an otherwise qualified undocumented immigrant. That legislation was prompted by Sergio Garcia, an otherwised qualified undocumented immigrant whose path to a law license seemed blocked by Supreme Court justices skeptical about whether federal law authorized the court to grant the license.
After the legislation passed and was signed by the governor, the Supreme Court vacated submission of the Garcia matter and asked for supplemental briefing about the new law’s impact. The additional briefing is now complete and the matter will be resubmitted Thursday, one day after the law is in force.
So, what are Garcia’s prospects now? Well, the most significant obstacle to his bar membership appears to be gone. The United States Department of Justice, which, based on the federal law that troubled the justices, had opposed Garcia’s application for a license, has submitted a short letter brief confirming that, once the new legislation takes effect, “the issuance of a law license in this case will no longer be precluded by” federal law.
Unless the Supreme Court has concerns other than the federal law that generated the Department of Justice’s opposition, Garcia might ring in 2014 (or at least the beginning of April) with a newly issued law license. Similarly situated prospective California lawyers would likely celebrate with him. Those in other states might not be so lucky.