Governor Brown this morning announced the nomination of Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to the Supreme Court. Cuéllar is a law professor at Stanford. His was among the names being mentioned for the court. [UPDATE: Cuéllar was reported to have been on the governor’s short list in 2011 of possible replacements for Justice Carlos Moreno. That appointment went to Goodwin Liu.]
Although announced today, Cuéllar will not join the court for over five months, because he is being nominated to fill the vacancy that will be created by Justice Marvin Baxter’s retirement. First, he must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and then by the voters at the November election. If both occur, he will take his seat when Justice Baxter’s term expires on January 5, 2015.
The governor still has one high court vacancy to fill, an appointee to replace Justice Joyce Kennard. Because of the different ways that Justices Baxter and Kennard chose to leave their positions, Justice Kennard’s successor could be seated on the court before Cuéllar.
With the nomination of Cuéllar, Governor Brown continues his trend (if two is a trend) of appointing northern California law professors in their early 40’s to the Supreme Court. Cuéllar is 41. Justice Goodwin Liu, who was appointed almost three years ago to the day, was teaching at UC Berkeley’s law school.
According to the governor’s press release, Cuéllar was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and for a number of years walked across the border each day to attend school in neighboring Brownsville, Texas. At age 14, he moved with his family to the Imperial Valley of California. His undergraduate degree is from Harvard College, he graduated from Yale Law School, and he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science from Stanford University, where he started teaching in 2001. Cuéllar served as special assistant to President Obama for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council and was co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition’s Immigration Policy Working Group. He served as a law clerk to Ninth Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder and was a senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1997 to 1999. Cuéllar is married to U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California.