Monday’s vote by the Senate confirmed Myrna Peez, a voting rights advocate, as a judge on U.S. 2nd. Circuit Court of Appeals. This makes her the sole Latino judge on the court, and the first Latina to be confirmed since Sonia Sotomayor was appointed for the Supreme Court.
Perez was confirmed on a 48-43 vote as the country is gripped in a struggle over voting rights. She is an exceptional lawyer who has shown throughout her career that they have the experience, intelligence, and temperament it takes for an extraordinary judge on the U.S. appels court.” Carlos Bollar (national president of the Hispanic National Bar Association) said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Perez’s confirmation and called her an extraordinary person.
” With the national attention on voting rights now it’s an important step to elevate Ms. Perez,” Schumer stated.
Perez was the former director for voting rights and elections at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice ,. This center has been critical of voter ID laws, laws shortening early voting , and other restrictions on voting. The 2nd Circuit hears federal appeals in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. It is one of 13 appeals courts and has 13 members.
Her confirmation helps President Joe Biden blunt criticism from Latinos and others about a dearth of Hispanics among his early nominees for judicial positions. Latinos to a Fair Judiciary has been advocating for more Latino judges. Perez was praised by Schumer, D.N.Y., as one of the nation’s leading experts on voting rights and elections. According to him, the federal judiciary has been well-stocked with corporate lawyers as well as prosecutors for a long time.
There are approximately 4.6 million Latinos living in the three states that the court serves.
Most are in New York, where about 19.5 percent of the population is Latino. In Connecticut, 17.3 percent of the population is Hispanic and in Vermont, 2.4 percent.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 19 states enacted 33 laws from Jan. 1 to Sept. 27 to make it harder for Americans to vote. In the same period, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws to expand access to voting.
The country had its highest voter turnout in more than a century in the 2020 election. Some states and jurisdictions have adopted voting procedures to help protect voters during the coronavirus epidemic.
After the election, there has been a lot of legislative row over voting rights. Republicans are pushing for more regulation and Democrats trying to make it easier.
Both the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (and the Freedom to Vote Act) were passed by the House. The latter bill was blocked by Republicans last week.
“With voting rights under threat across the country,” Myrna’s confirmation will bring the depth of expertise in voting law to the federal bench,” Brian Fallon, co-founder and executive director of Demand Justice, which supports Supreme Court reforms and other judicial reforms, stated in a statement.
“Her experience as a voting rights attorney will enable her to provide much-needed perspective to a federal court that has been biased in favor of government and corporate interests,” Fallon stated.
Perez is a native of San Antonio. She holds a bachelor’s from Yale University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University. Additionally, she has a Columbia University law degree. According to Latinos For a Fair Judiciary, she is a first generation college student.
She was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Eastern Pennsylvania, and for appeals Judge Julio Fuentes from the 3rd Circuit.
Her father worked as a radio communications consultant to help public safety agencies integrate their radios systems. Her mother was a customer service manager at the U.S. Postal Service, according to Perez’s wedding announcement in The New York Times in 2007. Her parents immigrated from Mexico, according to an Alliance for Justice report.
Latino organizations urged Biden to increase Latino appointments in the federal courts.
” The two additional Second Circuit seats recently opened offer another opportunity to do so,” stated Nil Sanchez of Latinos for a Fair Judiciary.
Thomas Saenz is the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Latino Defense and Educational Fund. She stated that the fact that she will be the only Latino judge on this circuit “indicates the necessity of accelerated and prioritized efforts to increase the number Latino federal judges.”