tv Judges Lawyers Testify on Judicial Branch Diversity CSPAN July 13, 2021 3:05am-5:43am EDT
this is just over 2.5 hours. >> the subcommittee will come to order and without objection, the chair is authorized to declare recess of the subcommittee at any time. welcome to this morning's hearing on the importance of a judiciary that is diverse, federally. i would like to remind members that we have established an email address and distribution list dedicated to circulating exhibits, motions, and other written materials members might want to offer as a part of the hearing today and if you would like to submit to reels, these send them to the email address that was previously distributed. we will circulate those materials as quickly as we can. i would like to ask numbers to
mute your microphones when not speaking, helping to prevent feedback and other technical issues. you may unmute yourself at any time you seek recognition and i will now recognize myself for an opening statement. today the subcommittee continues its discussion on an issue that impacts all americans. diversity within the federal judiciary. we discussed in march why judicial diversity is important. witnesses explained how judicial diversity, personal and professional, is essential to preserving public confidence and trust in the judicial system, protecting the rule of law, enhancing the equality of judicial decision-making, and making sure that exceptional lawyers who aspire to public service and know that this path is open to all.
today's hearing considers how we can achieve those goals by examining a critical but often unexamined part of the pathway to becoming a judge. namely how a holly -- highly qualified lawyers name gets into the pool of candidates from whom the president will ultimately select a nominee. as we look at today, the process has varied widely across the country and over time, dependent on the involvement of home state senators where the judicial vacancies have opened, in addition to the president. i hope to learn more today about how we can ensure that highly all if i lawyers with a wide range of backgrounds and legal experience are able to participate in the judicial selection process. there has been progress on this front. just seven months ago into this first year in office, president
biden has nominated a historically diverse slate of lawyers representing a broad array of professional legal backgrounds, including work as public defenders, prosecutors, labor lawyers, civil rights lawyers, and then law practitioners, immigration lawyers, commercial litigators, clerks, academics, and state and federal judges. their personal backgrounds are just as varied from a retired army captain deployed twice to iraq, who also happens to be the first muslim ever appointed to a federal judgeship, to a state court judge who left his complex litigation prop -- program in order to serve the community he grew up in.
yet there is much more work to be done. one need only look at the current composition of our courts to see that for highly qualified lawyers who don't fit a certain profile, the path to the federal bench can seem as narrow as a tight rope. female and minority judges are still sorely underrepresented in the federal bench, on the federal bench, which is dominated by former prosecutors and corporate law firm partners from the most expensive law schools in the country. the lack of diversity is especially stark among bankruptcy and magistrate judges who together handle the vast majority of the federal pocket. the upshot is this, if you are a plaintiff or criminal defendant, you could very well look at the federal judiciary, taken as a whole and wonder if you will get a fair shot.
if you are a litigator or criminal law practitioner, you might wonder how you will be heard. and if you are an extraordinary lawyer who might want to be a federal judge one day, these problems can seem daunting. best practices from state and federal judiciary's suggest that there are some straightforward steps we can take in the right direction. the witnesses for today's hearing bring with them unique knowledge and experience regarding the less visible but still critical parts of our judicial selection process. i look forward to hearing from them today as we move forward in this discussion on how best to address this important issue.
it is now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from california, mr. issa, for his opening statements. mr. issa? i do not see him on camera, so i will now move to the chairman of the full committee, the gentleman from new york, chairman nadler, for your statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this series of hearings on a diverse federal judiciary and i appreciate the opportunity to focus today on the selection and confirmation process. the process enriches judicial decision-making and as i said in the first hearing on this, we need to determine why in 2021 hour federal arts remained so frighteningly non-diverse in so
many ways and what we can do to make sure that the path to the federal bench is open to highly qualified lawyers willing to make themselves equal injustice under the law and although the judiciary remains disproportionately wide on corporate law partner prosecutions, those with ivy league degrees still being dominant, federal courts are certainly less homogeneous than they once were. it's a product of decades of effort from people like our distinguished leaders who recognized the value of diversity on the bench. this progress unfortunately comes in waves. it began under jimmy carter, who created a commitment to adding lawyers with expertise under the law and by the end of the first
term he had appointed as many as four times women to the federal bench with true -- twice as many people of color. progress continued with president clinton, whose white house counsel explained they wanted nominees with a wide range of experience. it presumed it presumed again under present obama, whose white house counsel set the president wanted the courts to look like america. the effort to ensure our judiciary encompasses a wide range of backgrounds has resumed again under the biden administration. the white house counsel made it clear in a letter earlier this year that the administration wanted judicial nominees who
"represent the best interest of america and who look like america and who have a wide range of professional experiences." while presidents may set the tone for who they may nominate for the vacancies, the selection process is far more complex. for example, most people may not realize their home state senator recommends district court nominees to the white house. most people may not be aware that our bankruptcy judges are even less diverse than the rest of the judiciary. as i think the witnesses will explain, there are aspects of the process that resembled many other jobs. for example, people will not apply for a job unless they know about a vacancy in how to apply. they probably will not apply if they do not think they are wanted or if they do not have adequate resources to help them through what can be a complex process.
that is true for potential judges. it is as true for potential judges as for anybody else. the late justice ruth bader ginsburg, for example, explained "the first time i ever thought of being a judge was when jimmy carter announced to the world that he wanted to change the complexion of the u.s. judiciary, which he did." justice ginsburg's story parallels the experience of many judges. fortunately, use of experience in the state and federal level have given us useful tools to make sure that highly qualified potential -- potential judicial nominees are not overlooked. i am pleased that we will be hearing from our witnesses so we can design a selection process to evaluate nominees fairly. i look forward to hearing from
our witnesses on this important topic and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. we have now been joined from my colleague from california, who has been having some persistent technological difficulties and he finally is on. thank you, sir. the floor is yours for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i apologize for the poor video. i went to all the trouble of having everything set up perfectly, and the computer does not work, but the iphone does. i want to thank you for holding this important hearing. as our committee considers the expansion of this court, more than ever the question of getting it right with an additional perhaps 50 or more nominees in addition to the 100 current vacancies based upon retirements or senior status, i cannot think of a more appropriate time to hold this
hearing. there is no question that diversity within the court, or the court representing a diverse group reflecting the look of america, helps americans believe that every american has access to the opportunities, and that justice knows no particular color. there is no question that today the court does not reflect exactly america. first of all, the supreme court reflects harvard more than other universities. it reflects more men than women and it reflects the legacy of the president's who appointed those individuals, meaning it has currently more people appointed by republicans than democrats. that is not just true today but it was true at the time of our founding.
when george washington appointed every member of the court and the replacements, he appointed more supreme court justices at a time when the supreme court was the court than any other president since. no question at all. he was a white male who appointed all white males. the fact is today the court is diverse, the court includes native americans, hispanics, men and women, people who are foreign-born and people who were born here. the court will never exactly reflect the population in the united states, but rather it will reflect the population of qualified candidates, one of the considerations we will hear today, are there sufficient qualified candidates? are we getting the best and the brightest, no matter where they came from, to choose law, to choose judgeship and to choose
to serve for less money and a harder job than they would choose if they remained in the other parts of their profession including law. one of the things that will be confrontational at times will be, do we choose to have people represented in the court because diversity creates people with different opinions, or is diversity simply the legitimate statement by the court that everyone is there? if i sit before an african-american judge or a woman, am i going to get a different case than if i sit before an italian american? one would hope, and i believe, that if we pick the right judges, it would make no difference as to the country of origin, gender or nationality of the judge.
many people today reflect the high court and say it has a bias towards one side or the other because of who appointed them. that kind of discussion, although interesting and perhaps sometimes reflective of the types of people in their opinion, also undermines the belief that the court, in the case of a single judge, trying you for either criminal or civil, will implement the law rather than opinion or bias. today we will have a discussion about opinions and biases and whether or not the correct choice of judges, that the rest -- gives as a judge where he or she is relatively free of those biases that the rest of us enjoy in our private lives, but a federal judge cannot and should not and cannot enjoy.
mr. chairman, thank you. i believe this is an important discussion and will lead to a better understanding of what we must do in the way of pushing reforms in the court. i yield back. >> thank you. i will now introduce our witnesses for the first panel. the honorable monica and marques was appointed to the colorado supreme court in 2010. she is the first latina to serve on the court in its history. among her many current commitments besides judging, she serves as chair of the colorado supreme court task force on lawyer well-being and is a coleader on the bench dream team, a group of judges dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the colorado judicial system. prior to her appointment, she
served as deputy attorney general at the attorney general office and as assistant solicitor general and assistant attorney general. before that, she practiced general commercial litigation and employment law at a denver law firm. justice marques earned her bachelor's degree from stanford and her law degree from yale she -- yale law school. she clerked for a judge in the united states district court for the district of massachusetts and for judge david m abele of the united states court of appeals for the 10th circuit. welcome, justice marques. the honorable ann k. mcage joined the minnesota supreme court in september of between 16, making her the first female native american to sit on any state supreme court in the united states.
a descendant of the white earth nation, she is a native of minnesota, where she grew up on the leech lake reservation. she served as an assistant county attorney for 16 years in minnesota, handling child protective cases and abduction matters with a specialty in cases that fall under the provisions of the indian child welfare act. she then served as a district court judge in hennepin county. she co-authored law school curriculum entitled "child abuse and the law" and teaches as an adjunct professor. among her many community engagements, she is a member of the speakers bureau of the zero abuse project and a member of the state tribal court forum. she attended saint catherine university for undergraduate and
received her law degree from hamline university. welcome. i will next turn to my colleague, the general month -- donovan from north care -- the gentleman from north carolina, mr. bishop. to introduce chief justice myers. >> i am honored to introduced the second chief judge for the united states district court of the eastern district of north carolina. he is a native of north jamaica but grew up in wilmington, north carolina. he graduated from unc wilmington and from that unc school of law. he had a distinguished career as an attorney in private practice and as a federal prosecutor. he served as assistant u.s. attorney for both the central district of caroline and -- california and the eastern district of north carolina and taught criminal law. in 2019, trump nominated him to
the district court bench in the senate confirmed. -- and the senate confirmed. judge myers became chief judge in north carolina this january. i was privileged to meet him during my tenure in the senate, and i am thrilled to renew the acquaintance. and proud to introduce your honor to the committee today. i'm eager to hear your perspective in today's proceedings. >> thank you. welcome, chief judge myers. the honorable michael j mcshane is a united states district judge for the district of oregon. prior to serving on the federal court, judge mcshane was a county judge for 15 years, presiding over a variety of criminal and civil cases. he was appointed to the county death penalty panel in 2003. has handled over 25 capital
cases. he teaches extensively on trial practice, advocacy and evidence, and he focuses much of his time off the bench working with at risk youth. prior to becoming a judge, he worked at the public defenders office. judge mcshane grew up in rural eastern washington and obtained his bachelor's degree at gonzaga university. afterwards, he joined the volunteer corps and worked with homeless parolees in portland. he then obtained his law degree from lewis and clark law school. judge mcshane is one of the 11 lgbtq active article three judges and the first gay federal judge serving the district of oregon. welcome, judge mcshane. before proceeding with testimony, i remind the witnesses that all of your written and oral statements made
to the subcommittee in connection with this hearing are subject to 18 usc section 1001, please note your written statements will be entered into the record in its entirety. and accordingly, i ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. there is a timer that should be visible on your screen that should help you stay within that time limit. for this panel we will not have any questions after the witnesses. judge marques, the floor is yours. you may begin. >> mr. chairman, ranking member, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to address you today about colorado's efforts. i will highlight a few of our initiatives in colorado, but my written statement includes several others including links
to more information about all of the programs. our efforts to diversify the state court bench took on renewed intensity in 2018, following a series of retirements, colorado was left without a single black district court judge in our system. this was emblematic of the lack of diversity throughout the state courts and it prompted us to make diversifying the bench urgent. an -- the bench an urgent priority. since that time, we have made progress. of our 300 plus state court judges, 41% are women. we have 12 black, 31 hispanic or latinx and three multiracial judges, reflecting increases in each of the categories since 2018. three key factors have contributed to our success.
first, with bipartisan support, the colorado general assembly enacted legislation that established a full-time position responsible for education and outreach efforts regarding judicial vacancies in the application process. to our knowledge, colorado is the first state in the nation have a position of this kind within the judicial department. the head of judicial judicial -- judicial outreach has used a data-driven approach identifying opportunities and develop educational programming. with her work, we aim to demystify the application and nomination process and make it more transparent and accessible to all applicants. second, we have engaged a broader community in this effort. our diversity on the bench coalition includes law school deans, judges, attorneys from private practice and government. this coalition partners with a
number of organizations to develop viable candidates for judicial vacancies, educate decision-makers at all levels of our merit selection process about the value of a diverse bench, and promote it through messaging and outreach to the broader community. separately, our bench dream team , a group of judges dedicated to diversity and inclusion has partnered with the center for inclusiveness to update a video for our nominating commissions. this fall, the bench dream team will pilot a new program to support diverse candidates for judicial vacancies. our pipeline efforts extend to college and law students. law school yes we can is one such program that mentors students from underrepresented communities and prepares them to
apply for law school. this program offers networking, leadership training, and lsat preparation. for our diverse law students, we provide a host of networking opportunities that can lead to clerkships through the externship program and even in the pandemic are new virtual copy house. third, we promote visibility of our diverse judges because we know it is difficult to be what you cannot see. in this vein, virtual meetings in the pandemic have boosted our engagement with prudential -- potential candidates from rural parts of colorado. through these many partnerships, we hope to light pathways to the bench from all four corners of her state. in closing, i can attest personally that having a diverse collection of backgrounds and
life experiences among the judges on an appellate court leads to richer and fuller discussions of the issues and better and more thoughtful decisions. but equally importantly, having a diverse judiciary strengthens public perception that the justice rendered by the court is truly equal. that perception is so critical, and it promotes confidence in and respect for the decisions rendered by the courts and thereby strengthens the rule of law itself. i think this committee for its attention to these important issues. >> thank you. i'm sorry, thank you justice marques. justice mccaig, you may now begin. >> bonjour, mr. chairman, ranking member and members of
the subcommittee. i am honored to have the opportunity to address you today on the important topic of diversity in the federal judiciary. my indian name is -- in english my name is ann mccaig. and i am the first indigenous woman ever to serve on any state supreme court in the history of this nation. in my native language my native -- tribal name means mist woman. which and our community is the blanket of mist in the morning that nurtures and protects the land across the white earth nation. i can speak from experience that we as indigenous women are all mist women. we are protectors. -- protectors of our children, our spouses, and our communities. yet history and life experience tells us despite this, we are far too often feeling
unprotected by the systems that are supposed -- supported and supposed to protect us including the federal judiciary. i could spend the remainder of my time rattling off statistics, that illustrate why the federal judiciary contributes to our feelings of fear as indigenous people. such is the fact that there have been only four indigenous people who have ever served as federal judges since the founding of this republic. but i believe that my time is best served on focusing on what i believe to be the critical reasons that greater diversity is needed in the federal judiciary, which is fairness and legitimacy. if you can imagine an indigenous mother entering a federal courthouse and seeing a white probation officer, white staff, a white judge, a white prosecutor, a white public
defender, a white court reporter, dictating her destiny moving forward, she begins to believe that this process is not legitimate or fair for her. she no longer feels a part of the self-governance that we so hold dear in this country. diversity in the judiciary isn't simply about the color of a person. it goes to the core of what we need to preserve, the role of the judiciary belief that all of us, we can wield power in creating and maintaining our republic and feel a part of the system. i have a very nontraditional path to the bench, and one that would not have taken place for the fact that i sought my -- saw my mentor, the first native american judge appointed to the twin cities district court, and i saw his process.
i did not know him. i went and stood in the back of the room, and it was during the course of his investiture that i began to believe that a young woman from a reservation, a home town of 106 people could be a judge one day and serve her community. it was through his mentorship and believe in me that helped me see that had a greater obligation to my community. that i could be part of the solution. minnesota has made great strides in diversifying our judiciary. we have held a traditional boot camps which have been sought out by the affinity community so we can demystify the judicial selection process. they have set up strong programs like the one i experienced. we have a strong judicial commission that includes members that are also from the public.
we have done much public speaking including outreach events such as the minnesota supreme court going to the reservations, the first visit in the history of any indigenous nation. we also travel to high schools and hold court hearings as though they were at our courts in the high schools and spend time with students to encourage them, including all students, that they too could have a dream of becoming a judge. it is incredibly important that those who come before the court systems feel they are a part of the system and that they have an opportunity to be heard. i am grateful for this opportunity today. i thank you for all of the work you are doing. miigwech. >> thank you, justice mccaig. next we will hear from chief judge myers.
chief myers, please, you may begin. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member, distinguished members of the subcommittee. i believe this is crucial because of the message it sends for axis of the court and are fairness of the judicial system. discriminating on the basis of characteristics damages those who choose to discriminate and it damages those excluded or chosen for that reason. absolute equality and opportunity is essential to judicial selection. no american should believe that someone like me cannot get fair consideration for any position of public service. today, i want to talk about the path of a diverse judiciary and the collateral consequences of the choices we make. first, a little bit about my own path. and then a little bit of the future. i a jamaican immigrant. am my family moved to miami in the late 1970's. in the early 1980's, we moved
again to wilmington, north carolina, where i now sit as a federal district judge. i may represent the future of the color line. there are people who are eager to place me into a racial category for reasons of my -- of their own. but my background and appearance defy simple categorization. when my family moved to wilmington, i was repeatedly asked what are you? this was intended to provide the asker for a pigeonhole. 40 years ago, my opportunities and social status were dependent on the answer. the answer jamaican was insufficiently deficient for -- specific for some. it was always followed by the more pointed question, no, what race? my answer at the human race was deemed to be too clever, but it remains my answer. i am body -- i embody the american motto, out of many, one people. the inquiry into my race has not gone away.
friends of different races in law school arguing over my race, fortunately in an attempt to claim me than miss claim me. i was encouraged to select different boxes -- all of this was troubling to me because it fostered the perception that i would be treated as a representation of some category, not as a unique individual with my own talents, goals, and dreams. i felt none of this racial pressure when i was selected to to be a candidate as a federal judge. at the time i was a law professor, and i brought kinds of diversity there too. i was an outspoken activism -- activist of restraint with an increasingly liberal legal academy. my exposure to the law students and leaders in the legal field within our state as a conservative law professor i'm sure was a significant reason i was nominated. before joining the academy, i served as a federal prosecutor,
and defense attorney before that. the combination of personal autobiography and legal philosophy has caused whiplash for some people's preconception. i can happily say that at no time during my confirmation was i asked about my race until after my hearing. ironically as i was walking out of the hearing, a reporter asked me what race i was and told me that the president was criticized for failing to select a diverse candidate. looking forward, racism is real and i have personal experience with it, but i believe that justice is blind and that all justices and judges wear the same black robes for a reason. we need to achieve martin luther king's dream, create a day where we are all judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. this is my chosen country, and i've taken multiple oath's to uphold and defend the constitution of the united states. at my naturalization ceremony and when i became a u.s.
attorney and again when i became a federal judge. we have amended our constitution multiple times to commit us to the principle that all people are equal before the law. we still have much work to do before we fully accomplish that goal. as a judge i strive every day to find neutral principles of the law and a prop -- apply them neutrally without fear or failure. if the public reason believes that a potential judge was excluded or chosen because of a characteristic, then we lose faith that the judge that was chosen was the best choice amongst all those available. i encourage our leaders to remain committed to the proposition that all people are equal before the law and consider every potential candidate as an individual with all of the nuance that requires and broaden the pipeline so we can seek the best candidates without fear. again, thank you. >> thank you, chief judge myers.
now we will turn to judge mcshane. judge mcshane, you may begin. >> greetings from oregon. i want to thank the committee and its leadership for inviting me to speak today on this topic of diversity. i'm not going to speak today on the importance of diversity, i believe this body would not be holding such a hearing as this if it did not understand why a truly diverse federal bench is important to our democracy. instead, i want to talk about some of the challenges that we are facing in our attempts at diversity inclusion in some of the steps we can make to widen opportunities for broader spectrum of applicants. this means looking at the traditional pathways to the bench and exploring some of the nontraditional pathways. the last time i had an opportunity to speak on the subject of diversity was a few years ago before a group of
young clerks and lawyers in washington, d.c., a part of a gay pride event. one of the lawyers asked me how can we diversify the federal courts, without giving it much thought, i blurted out we need to lose our addiction to yale and harvard. the entire room went silent. almost every lawyer in the room went to yale or harvard. i will be the first to say that these are great law schools, but diversity and inclusion cannot rely simply on the pedigree of a diploma from a particular school. it requires us to reach out proactively and invite more people to the table. why are the traditional pathways not working, and what are they? one of the first pathways is judicial clerkships, and many of my colleagues, and if you look, most of the justices on the
supreme court, began their career as a judicial clerk. it is a job that opens doors. when it comes to the hiring of clerks, local law schools and regional law schools are often overlooked in favor of the top ranked schools. it has been these schools that we find that are much more accessible to a diverse group of students. students from rural communities, working moms and dads, students caring for an aging parent, students who were first in their family to navigate higher education, minority students, and students who had to hold real jobs to survive while they went to school. i have had clerks from top schools and i've had clerks from local law schools. they are equal in their excellence. i think sometimes the only difference is the local law schools grade the student work. another traditional pathway to the federal bench is the magistrate judge positions. in most states, magistrate
judges are chosen by the article three judges themselves. there is a tendency to pick somebody who is a known quantity. somebody we are familiar with and have seen in courts. that tends to be somebody who looks a lot like us. that often is someone from the u.s. attorney's office or a law firm. we need to encourage people who don't necessarily look like us to apply. i was very proud that the district of oregon three years ago selected the first muslim american judicial officer in united states history. i sat on many panels where in law school we were asked what is the path to becoming a federal judge? the traditional answer is to work at the u.s. attorney's office or a large law firm. these are good answers. but why do we rely on these traditions if we are seeking true diversity? why aren't we able to tell these young minds, go work with the poor, get a job with the legal
aid, become an immigration attorney, help injured workers, represent veterans or farmers? when i was nominated to the bench, it was very important to the obama administration that i came from a public defender background. they seemed to tout that as quickly as they touted -- one of my friends actually added pd to lgbtq because i felt a little bit of a unicorn, and i still feel like i am a little bit of a unicorn with that past. we need to exploit these nontraditional paths and at least ask why are we not seeking out those who work with the poor and the marginalized? are they less intellectual? can they not be fair? serving the poor and
marginalized should not be a strike against anyone. i was a public defender and i oppose the death penalty. and i became a judge i had to send somebody to death because it was the lawful verdict. i followed the law. that is what we do. finally, we need to work closely with the diversity law association and encourage the student members to apply for clerkships, their young attorneys to participate in federal court activities, and qualified members to seek appointments. the diversity law associations have to work together and not against each other. in my nomination process, the diversity bar associations came together and worked together and came up with a number of endorsed candidates that they could put forward to our senator. it was only because of that that my name was able to get through and become nominated. i am so happy to see some of the diversity bar associations are represented in the second panel. thank you for giving me this opportunity. i am happy to at any time answer questions. >> thank you.
this will conclude the first panel testimony for the hearing today. i would like to thank the witnesses for their participation and testimony. we will now transition to the second panel of witnesses. with those witnesses now being on the screen, i will now introduce them. ian warner is the cochair of the judicial merit selection committee for the western district of washington, established by the washington u.s. senators patty murray and maria cantwell. in this role, he and the committee review candidates for the positions of u.s. district court judge, advises senators on committee findings and suggest
potential candidates for federal court vacancies before the senators make final recommendations to the president. outside of his work with the judicial merit selection committee, he is the senior director for public policy. prior to this role he was legal counsel for the mayor's office for the city of seattle and associate with the law firm dorsey and whitney, practicing in the areas of banking and finance, securities, employment and construction law. he received his bachelor of arts degree from whitman college and his jd from the university of washington school of law. welcome. the honorable ab cruz iii is the president of the board of governors for the national asian
pacific american bar association and he serves on the board of an acquisition corporation and is a senior advisor at barker gilmore llc, providing coaching and search services to legal leaders , ceos and corporate boards. he also has served and currently serves on many nonprofit and charitable boards. admiral cruz has helped lead several prominent companies to diverse industries -- excuse me, he has helped lead several prominent companies in diverse industries, including usaa, emergent and scripps network in a variety of senior legal and executive roles.
he is a former navy admiral who led to numerous high-performing operational teams and represented the united states internationally in multiple high-level engagements with foreign military. over the course of his naval career, he served as deputy director of maritime operations for u.s. fleet forces command and as deputy commander, among other posts. he holds a jd from the catholic university of america, an ma in marketing from the university of maryland and a bs in general engineering and physical sciences from the u.s. naval academy. welcome. ms. jennifer braceras is the
director of the independent women's forum law center, a nonprofit organization focusing on women's policy issues. prior to this role, she was a contributing columnist and analyst for various media and news outlets like boston globe media, the boston herald, new england cable news, and later became the editor in chief of the new boston post. she served on the u.s. commission on civil rights for approximately six years after having been appointed by president george w. bush. before serving on the commission, she was a research fellow at harvard law school and a legal fellow with the independent women's forum. she was also an attorney with the law firm robeson gray where she practiced labor and employment law.
she earned her bachelor of arts from the university of massachusetts amherst and her jd from harvard law school. welcome. ms. diaz-yaeger is the president of the hispanic national bar association. she is a frequent speaker and cle presenter and serves as a facilitator for the louisiana state bar association. she is also a shareholder in the insurance section, where her primary areas of practice include industrial employment, insurance defense and coverage, environmental law, commercial litigation and board governance and cybersecurity. she also serves as the secretary
of the board of directors of on path federal credit union, whose mission is to strengthen the financial health of underserved communities through financial service and education. in addition, she has cofounded and volunteered in many other community organizations. she received her bachelor of arts, science, and masters in science from the university of southwestern louisiana and her jd from loyola university, new orleans college of law. welcome. before proceeding with testimony, i hereby remind the witnesses that all of your written and oral statements made to the subcommittee in connection with this hearing are
subject to section 1001. please note your statements will be entered into the record in entirety. accordingly, i asked that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. there is a timer and it should be visible on your screen and it should help you stay within the time limit. ms. warner, you may begin. >> mr. chairman -- rep. johnson: mr. warner, excuse me. mr. warner: no problem. i will begin again. i am honored to address you today. similar to my written testimony, my comments will focus on the judicial merit selection committee for the west district of washington, which i cochaired in 2020.
i will begin with a bit of context, including part one of this hearing. in that march hearing, several judges and academics articulated the statistical realities that the federal bench has lagged behind the diversity of the country and the legal community. they also explained the importance of diversity in terms of procedural justice and perception of trust. with that information already established the record, i will add that the u.s. district court for the western district of washington has never had a lifetime native american or asian american federal judge. considering there are 29 federally recognized tribes in washington state, and that washington state is home to one of our country's largest aapi communities, i will also note the recent cato institute study which found the ratio of prosecutors to defense attorneys on the federal bench today is
almost exactly four to one. in the context of the hearing today, what do these statistics mean? this lack of diversity on the bench speaks directly to potential judicial applicants to say you need not apply. if you are from underrepresented legal backgrounds, women, of color, lgbtq, or black. these statistics also speak directly to litigants and the committee to say that you are an outsider here. these realities must be addressed because the range of interest and people that appear before the federal judiciary are broad. we must encourage qualified and historically marginalized candidates to apply by being clear that we believe black, brown, native american, asian american, women and lgbtq lawyers can also represent the best of our legal profession. this year, we will able to say
that the white house is serious about bringing historically diverse and underrepresented people. you should apply. the committee was intentional about meeting that goal. last december we convene to nominate candidates for five judicial vacancies on the western district bench, one of the highest vacancies in the country. senator murray made several changes to the committee composition with the intent to increase the diversity of legal experience in the committee. the committee appointments included a then u.s. attorney, a former longtime federal defender, an aclu director, and others. our youngest member was 33. black, latino, native american and other racial groups were represented. at the hearing, we heard from
the staff and discussed the letter from white house counsel. in that letter it highlighted the white house interest in candidates with legal experiences that have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench. meeting the directive to address this historical underrepresentation required innovation in our approach. innovation is often driven by diversity. in this context, the committee 's diversity and recruiting processes were essential to attracting diverse applicants reflective of our community. we knew that the committee members with their deep connections to the seattle and tacoma legal communities made it generally more likely that professionally diverse and strictly underrepresented candidates would apply, but that diversity was and is still not enough. we also encourage the membership to highlight the application process within their networks
and directly to reach out to qualified applicants who might otherwise hesitate to apply. we also publicize the vacancy announcement through expanded channels, including the western chapter of the federal bar association, local minority bar associations and local media outlets. the results of those recruiting efforts was the largest and most diverse applicant pool since the committee's inception. we received more than 75 applications are truly presented washington's broader community. the committee met over eight weeks and deliberated until we reached consensus on the slate of nominees. the outcome was the most professionally diverse in history. it included public defenders, a native law expert and former u.s. attorneys. in conclusion, this very week, the senate judiciary will vote on three of our outstanding nominees, warren king who would
be washington's first native american federal judge and tribal law expert. tonna lin a civil rights , attorney and former public defender, and judge david esodio, a judge in a rural area of washington state that is home to farming communities. these outstanding nominees look like america and will play a key role in creating a western district bench that reflects and engenders trust in its community. i want to thank the members of the subcommittee and its staff for holding a hearing on such an important topic and welcome your questions. rep. johnson: thank you. next, we will turn to admiral cruz. you may begin. admiral cruz: good morning and thank you, chairman johnson, ranking member issa, and committee ranking member jordan. distinguished members of the subcommittee, it is my honor and privilege to appear before you
on behalf of the national asian pacific american bar association. thank you for highlighting the importance of a diverse federal judiciary, which is so critical for ensuring faith and confidence in the rule of law. we represent the interests of over 60,000 api lawyers. we consist of a nationwide work of nearly 90 affiliates. we are a leader in addressing civil rights issues and confronting aapi communities and we have been a strong national voice for increased diversity on the bench, equal opportunity in the workplace, and combating hate crimes and discrimination. for the aap i community, this hearing comes at a crucial moment.
throughout our country, we are confronting the twin scourges of anti-asian american hate and covid, for which so many asian americans have been scapegoated. the apa legal community has responded to help a population that has suffered thousands of attacks, to represent victims and use all legal mechanisms available to attain justice. but in order for our justice system to work as our founders designed it, with constitutional duties to safeguard rights and liberties, the american public must be assured that it is fair, impartial, and will provide equal justice for all. for the apa legal community, representation on the federal bench continues to be a struggle. out of 673 federal district court seats, only 27 are held by active apa jurists. of 179 federal appellate court
deeds, -- court seats, only 10 active apa judges serve. as this sub menu knows, there -- this subcommittee knows, there has never been an apa candidate submitted to the supreme court. currently only six states have an apa justice sitting on their state supreme court. what accounts for this disparity? the apa legal community faces barriers including lack of role models and recognition. stereotyping even for ostensibly positive traits such as hard work and diligence has often disadvantaged apa attorneys who may be passed over for high-profile assignments because of misguided perceptions that they are too passive to be effective in a litigation or courtroom setting. within the apa legal community,
there are identifiable gaps in the judicial pipeline. for example, apa law students are well represented in top-tier law schools, but they do not obtain judicial clerkships in comparable numbers. apa lawyers are underrepresented in law firm partner ranks. they are underrepresented in public sector leadership. traditional pathways to the bench, including clerkship and law firm partnerships often involve highly subjective criteria such as likability, leadership potential, and other amorphous factors as to whom judges, professors, and partners regard as their protégé. if i may, i would like to share a personal story about why representation matters. when i was a midshipman at the naval academy and even after receiving my commission, the lack of diversity in the officer
corps struck me. my career had been driven by an abiding love for this country. as the son of immigrants and a strong sense of duty and deep pride in the navy, but there were times during my career when i wondered, does this navy reflect who i am as an american? when i was assigned to my very first ship, i was the only -- one of only two officers aboard the uss gray. one day when i opened -- i got a knock at the door, and when i opened it, in rushed a crowd of minority sailors of all different backgrounds. they told me how inspiring it was to see an officer of color aboard. and for once, for them, the navy was not somebody else's navy. faith and confidence in leadership was enhanced because these sailors saw themselves in me. that moment changed my perspective. it was not about me. it was about all of who aspire
to be me. my written testimony discusses how in a diverse nation of a broadly representative military, a diverse officer corps is more likely to uphold national values and be loyal to the country they serve. diversity is not a buzzword. it is mission-critical. it is an imperative. the same goes for the legal profession. as a former naval officer, i recognize in a courtroom that the judge is the presiding officer. judicial candidates will rise and fall on their own merits as it should be. however, we can and must do more to cast a wider and deeper net to attract a broader pool of highly qualified applicants, and those applicants must have role models, mentors and networks to help them succeed. in order for the rule of law to endure and thrive in this country and to prevent a loss of faith and confidence in the judicial system, the courts cannot be someone else's but
must belong to all people. thank you for your time. i'm happy to answer any of your questions. rep. johnson: thank you, admiral cruz. thank you for your military service to the nation. next, we will proceed to ms. braceras. if you will begin. if you will unmute. ms. braceras: there we go. chairman johnson, ranking member issa, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your invitation to testify. my name is jennifer braceras, and i am the director of independent women's law center, a former commissioner on the u.s. commission of civil rights, and a member of the hispanic national bar association. a judiciary that reflects the vibrant tapestry of america enhances the legitimacy of our system and gives americans confidence that justice is
impartial and that our courts are acceptable to all. it is undeniable that the historic appointment to the supreme court of sonya sotomayor, sandra day o'connor, anthony scalia thurgood , marshall and louis brandeis has special meaning. even at the lower court level, the confirmation of a judge from a particular background is often a source of great pride for the community. politics, whether partisan or ethnic, will always influence judicial nominations to some degree. our constitution anticipates this by allowing politicians to pick judges of their choosing from constituencies of their choosing, but neither politics nor diversity should be the primary factor in selecting judges who serve for life. the primary factor in selecting a judge should not be race,
ethnicity or sex or even an elite judicial pedigree, but rather a judicial philosophy. the best judges understand that their role is to resolve specific disputes according to the law. good judges act with humility and with restraint, tethering their rulings to the law's original meaning. not the political winds of the moment. from a qualified pool of nominees committed to originalism, restraint and impartiality, politicians can consider diversity a plus. so how are we doing with respect to judicial diversity? statistics never tell the whole story. but consider these -- according to the american bar association , in 2020, the legal profession was less than 5% african-american, less than 5% hispanic, and less than 3% asian
american, and yet the washington post reports the federal judiciary is almost 13% african-american, 9% hispanic, and almost 5% asian american. given the makeup of the profession and the pool of candidates, our federal judiciary is remarkably representative. it would seem that the best way to increase diversity on the bench is to broaden the pipeline by expanding opportunities to attend law school. in many of the ways justice marcus mentioned in her testimony. representation matters, but diversity is often a moving target, one that encompasses an ever-expanding list of immigrant communities, genders, and religious and sexual minorities, not to mention various intersectional combinations.
physical parity is not possible and should not be our aim. unfortunately, one obstacle for a more diverse federal bench has been the hypocrisy, rooted in racism, that the only legitimate members of an ethnic or racial group are those that have found a particular dogma. i'm old enough to remember how in 2003, democrats used the senate filibuster to block the nomination to the d.c. circuit of miguel estrada, one of the most brilliant lawyers in i have also been round enough to observe a 30 year campaign to delegitimize justice clarence thomas as an authentically black. sadly, as these examples make clear, those who claim to want a more diverse federal bench often do not. in conclusion, the goal of judicial selection is not
proportional representation, but the creation and maintenance of the most fair and impartial judiciary in the world. as we seek to diversify the legal profession and the federal bench, we must never forget that the most important qualifications for a judge are good judgment and commitment to the rule of law. thank you for having me. i am happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you. next, we will turn to ms. diaz yager. you may begin. >> thank you. chairman johnson, ranking member jordan, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this pickle hearing on the importance of judicial diversity. i am honored to be here. i serve as president of the hispanic national bar organization or h nba. we are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents the interests of more than 67,000
hispanic legal professionals. we act as the collective voice for issues of common concern to our members and community. our organization has been working for 50 years to support the recruitment and retention of hispanics to law school, the judiciary, and government. the hnba have worked to endorse qualified individuals to fill vacancies in the federal court system. since the start of the current administration, we have endorsed and provided the white house and senators with 48 qualified candidates. 47 of whom were hispanic. today, i will touch upon the importance of judicial diversity in the paths forward to increasing diversity in the judiciary. only 9% of active federal judges identify as hispanic despite it is the nations largest minority group.
representing almost 20% of the u.s. population. at this there are no hispanic point, judges in 36 states. research supports the value of diversity behind the bench. a diverse bench provides for diversity of experience and creates a pipeline for future judges that reflects the community they will serve. a diverse judiciary helps combat the implicit bias in our government institutions and our system of justice. moreover, diverse backgrounds and experiences -- studies point to diversity as improving outcomes, and we believe the same is true in the judiciary. sadly there are several , challenges diverse candidates face in navigating the nomination process. procedural and personal biases limit opportunities for qualified hispanics and other minorities seeking to serve on the federal bench. making their own
recommendations, each with differing views on the value of diversity. as a result judicial diversity , is not a priority, the demographics will tend to reflect themselves and their demographics. however, there are proactive measures that outside stakeholders can take. for example the national , affinity bar and other interest groups that care about the composition of the judiciary can put forward qualified , candidates to the white house and senators. another challenge to diversity on the bench is bias. a recent study found that widespread gender and racial bias permeates hiring, promotion, assignment, and compensation in the legal industry. similarly, statistics show this is prevalent in the selection of traditional nominees. even when there is no personal
bias at play, key decision-makers also often turn to their own narrow network for judicial recommendation. as a result, the process naturally causes an unintentional bias that results in traditional nominees who are lacking in diversity. so it can be done to widen the path forward? the administration's nominations today are a positive sign of movement, one that actually reflects the communities that come before the courts. this progress is a strong example of how decision-makers can exercise power they have to affect change. change can be affected by key decision-makers opening the selection process to include stakeholders outside their usual networks, rather than relying on the same law schools and exclusive institutions and networks, they want a more inclusive process that incorporates the wider breadth of practice areas and expertise will lead to more diverse candidates being provided the opportunity, which will increase
mentorship and pipeline growth. i want to thank the subcommittee for taking the time to consider this critical issue. public dialogue helps raise awareness. on behalf of the hnba, we look forward to working to promote diverse candidates to the federal bench. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you. we will now proceed under the five minute rule with questions. i will begin by recognizing myself for five minutes. admiral cruz and ms. diaz-yaeger, i would like to discuss why judicial diversity matters. at the subcommittee's first hearing on this topic a few months ago, judge edward tin
explained, recounted -- and recounted a number of instances where a judge drew on their own life experiences with their colleagues to help their colleagues understand crucial elements of the case in ways that they might have missed. for example, judge chin described how justice ginsburg helped her colleagues see how a strip search might feel to a middle school aged girl and how judge henderson, the first black judge on judge chin's court explained to a colleague that the shockingly racist graffiti a plaintiff described was far more common than his colleagues thought. judge chin explained that there is a cost when voices are missing from the room. do you agree with that sentiment? first admiral cruz and then ms. diaz-yaeger.
admiral cruz: yes, chairman, thank you for that question. i do believe that it is imperative that there be diversity of views, perspectives, and experiences. it is not only a good thing, it is an imperative. the more voices you have at a table, the more perspectives, the more robust the discussion and debate and challenges are. what this results in is more beyond the norm thinking, greater creativity, greater all innovation, and ultimately my believe and my experience says better decisions and better results. that is why any organization, be at a corporation, the judiciary, diversity of views and perspectives and experiences is an imperative.
>> thank you, admiral cruz. ms. diaz-yaeger. ms. diaz-yaeger: it is imperative that a broad perspective and understanding and ability to get that information from others helps you understand and put things into perspective. the more backgrounds, experiences, different types of individuals that are on the bench that can work together actually helps to get a better perspective and outcome and result. >> thank you. mr. warner, would you like to add anything to this? >> yeah, i really enjoyed that march 25 hearing because i think those examples that were given by the judges were illustrative of how the judges all do look at the black letter law but bring their life experiences to the
bench as well. in particular myself, i have clerked in the division i court of appeals in washington state, and i will tell you in that setting working with other clerks and law students to look at the facts of the case and help the judge apply them to the law, those conversations among colleagues were incredible in my learning experience to understanding the importance of diversity in viewing how diversity does influence judicial outcomes. in that way it brought me much closer to wanting to learn more about the bench and to bring other students of color like myself behind the bench where we do not often immediately get access. that was an important lesson for me young in my career and one we replicate for others here in the western district. >> at the start of this year, president bidens white house
counsel wrote a letter explaining the administration's focus on nominating judges who reflect the best of america and who look like america, including individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights, and legal aid attorneys and those who represent americans in every walk of life. what impact has that letter had on promoting judicial diversity? i would like admiral cruz and ms. diaz-yaeger to also respond. if you could do so quickly. mr. warner: in my opening comments, i mentioned that in our committee's first hearing, we read and referenced the letter at that time and spoke directly to the senators about it. the intent was to coalesce our committee members around the
task that we had a hand, and that was to look for diverse legal experience, public defenders, civil rights attorneys, and you've legal aid -- and youth legal aid attorneys ended up being in our group of applicants. that was part of our recruiting efforts. ultimately, as you see in our nominees we have those diverse , legal experiences represented, and hopefully will see them on the bench soon. >> mr. chairman, i will quickly respond. we see diversity as a term and concept broadly defined, not just race and ethnicity, but also gender and sexual in -- sexual orientation veteran , status and disability and professional diversity, law school diversity, public defenders, legal aid, attorneys, government and nongovernment attorneys as well.
ms. diaz-yaeger: thank you, mr. chairman. i would echo what mr. warner and mr. cruz said. these nominations show the community that the widening of the net is occurring and that individuals can come forward and are being invited and welcomed to the table for consideration. >> thank you. i have exceeded my time. next, we will have questions from the gentleman from ohio, mr. shabbat. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am a lawyer by training and spent nearly two decades practicing law in my congressional district in greater cincinnati area. since getting elected to congress, i have served on this committee for 25 years. i served as the chairman for six years of the constitution subcommittee, and my ranking member was none other than the current chair, mr. nadler. in my career, i have come across a lot of judges in courtrooms as
well as in judicial hearings we have had over those decades, and i have found that the vast majority of the judges that i have come into contact with well-qualified and able to fairly adjudicate cases based on the constitution, based on the laws we pass in congress, and the laws of the various state legislatures. today's hearing is the second part in a series of hearings, which seem to suggest that for many of my democratic colleagues that the most important determining factors in judicial selection ought to be race or gender or both. while it is important to have a diverse federal judiciary, i would argue that the most important factor is selecting and confirming nominees, whether it is a candidate or whatever, that they are qualified, highly qualified, and they are
impartial and their legal decisions. during his administration, president trump nominated dozens of qualified and diverse judicial candidates who were time and again opposed by virtually every senate democrat and likely some here on our committee even though we do not get to vote. not because they were unqualified, but their legal ideology did not align with the democrats' political views. take for example just as amy coney barrett. she was rated well-qualified by the american bar association. despite her academic and professional achievements, she received zero votes from democrats during her confirmation process.
take judge naomi reo. she received a well-qualified rating from the aba. despite receiving similar academic and professional accolades as justice barrett, she also did not receive a single vote from senate democrats. today, she is the first asian pacific american woman to sit on the d.c. circuit court of appeals. and in march, we saw two of our senate colleagues saying they would oppose all non-minority or non-lgbtq appointees that biden would appoint. many of my democratic colleagues seem to want to make everything about race, unfortunately. they get to control what these hearings are. they get to decide what we talk about. i would like to see maybe a hearing on the lack of conservative political or conservative professors at the college level or city counselors, very few
conservatives there, or among the media. for example reporters nowadays. let me ask a couple questions. ms. becerra, there are many examples like justice amy coney barrett and naomi rao and others whom the democrats have time and again opposed, not because they are not qualified, but because they do not share the same political views. could you comment on that? >> sure. sometimes i think conservative minorities are the most discrete -- the most discriminated the group of nominees. precisely because of their minority status, their intersectional status if you will come up both conservative and minority, that the left deems them so dangerous. we saw this for a fact when senator durbin's memo was leaked in the early 2000's indicating
that democrats viewed miguel estrada as dangerous because he is "latino." when we talk about diversity, representation is important. everybody has access and judges are impartial and that we all have access to justice. but, when we talk about diversity, we have to include all members of racial and ethnic groups, not just the ones who expound a particular dogma. you mentioned naomi rao, another good example. we see it time and time again that judges who are originalists or nominees who are originalists, who want to apply the law neutrally without an agenda, they are not accepted by
the democrats even though they represent diverse communities. and are often times the first member of that community to serve on a particular court. >> thank you very much. my time is expired. >> thank you. we will now turn to the chairman of the full committee, mr. nadler, who i do not see on the screen. with that, we will now go to the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for calling this important hearing. judges on the bench should reflect our communities. as we heard today they should not be from one or two law schools, should not be predominantly white males or former prosecutors or from big law firms.
the judicial branch restores -- hears issues that represent americans. in december 2020, the incoming biden administration nominated to the federal bench those who reflected america and looked like america. and expressed the desire to appoint people to seats that had been underrepresented, including public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those that represent americans in every walk of life. and, to assist in outreach and evaluating nominees for the federal bench, my state of florida created three nomination commissions, one for the north, central and southern part of the state that are composed of diverse legal, educational, ethnic and racial backgrounds. they reflect a population diversity background that makes
our state so unique and i would like to ask mr. warner about this issue specifically and procedures and processes to ensure a diverse pool of nominations. whether your committee addressed effective outreach to find qualified people for judicial vacancies, if you could speak to that. and i have a follow-up for you. mr. warner: thank you, representative. this year we actually changed the composition of the committee from six members to 10 and i think that gave us additional opportunities to find more professional diversity and put that professional diversity onto the committee. the discussion after the recruitment process was made much more rich by that diversity of legal experience. we had folks on our committee with tribal law expertise which we had lacked previously. it is helpful to have folks in
the room that have native law expertise to be evaluators. the diversity of the committee also created efficiency in recruiting. when you want to reach out to minority bar associations and you look around your committee and you have several former presidents and current members on important committees within the minority bar associations, you have created efficiency. you can know your vacancy announcement is going to be placed in the agenda, someone will show up that can speak to the committee, and talk to the membership about the importance they have qualified members apply. i will wrap up by saying i do think we created real efficiencies and improved our committee by expanding membership. >> thanks. in the first hearing the subcommittee held on the
importance of diversity in the judicial system, we discussed having the need for a diverse judiciary and how critical it is for maintaining public trust. the public trust in the judiciary would also seem to extend to how nominees are treated during the confirmation process. the ranking member expressed the need to scrutinize public defenders who were being nominated based on the perception they could rule in a certain way. again, how does extra scrutiny or the call for extra scrutiny of nominees, particularly nominees who are not the traditional type of nominees to the federal bench, what does that do to impact the public's perception of the bench? >> representative, i think you hit the nail on the head when you used the word "traditional."
i think as we see more civil , rights litigators, civil legal aid attorneys go through the process, you get that confidence in representation that you have seen someone before you get through the process. we cannot promise you were going to make it all the way through, but the idea you have seen someone like you with your legal background go through it, and some will achieve that confidence, really does engender more applications from people who may choose that route. the same is true for law students. there are law students that may begin as public defenders and think they can no longer be a federal judge. as we progress i'm hopeful that perception decreases and we get more applicants. >> as am i, mr. warner. chairman johnson, thank you
again for holding this hearing today. i yelled back. >> we proceed to the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan. mr. jordan, and your haircut makes you look a lot younger today. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i don't know about that. i am feeling pretty old but thank you for the hearing. i am going to yield to the gentleman from california. >> thank you ranking member. thank you, chairman, for holding this hearing. i think one of the things coming out of this helps us bring questions i might otherwise not have asked. i want to ask admiral cruz, you mentioned likability was one of the characteristics you thought should not be used, is that correct? admiral cruz: well, it is often in many contexts, like in law
firms, likability comes up. i'm not saying it can't be used but it certainly -- >> would it surprise you the university of california and other universities, likability has been deliberately put in in order to expand that diversity of the candidates? in other words, move them up where they were it otherwise not be qualified? based on their task -- based on their test scores and grades. isn't likability, and your own words and observation isn't it a , great way to end up not necessarily getting the best candidate unless it is somehow essential? if i wanted a salesman, i probably would like likability. i do not know if admiral halsey was famous for being particularly likable in my reading.
admiral cruz: ranking member, i was talking about or referring to a particular context as you did. certainly in the context of a , law from hierarchy and fitting in, the more senior partners can often, you know, gravitate to people more like them and that was the context. >> yes, i know and i appreciate it. i just want to make sure we touch on that. i want to go back to something you said, ms. baceras. you gave startling statistics basically looking at members of the bar of the three major minorities, african-american, hispanic and the like, you said they are each in about 5%. well, the population would be larger than that but 13.9% for african-american and hispanic.
would you say if we were to use the lower figure we would, by definition, have to reach two candidates to the detriment of candidates that might be more qualified? ms. baceras: the number one qualification is they have to pass law school. if you have not attended law school, you are not going to be picked. the problem is we need to do a better job of making law school accessible to diverse communities. particularly when you are talking about immigrant communities or working-class communities. but you also have related to that the fact that the salary of a federal judge is in no way reflective of what people can
make in law firms or other aspects of the legal profession. even in some public interest areas. what we found in massachusetts is that it is very hard to recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds who are concerned about finance because they do not want to leave lucrative professions and take a pay cut to join the federal bench. even some diverse candidates that may be qualified along every axis. judicial philosophy, professional backgrounds, all of the above may not be willing to leave their current profession to take a job on the court. it is not just that we have to increase the pipeline to law school, we have to make access to those who were not born wealthy.
>> i will take some pride in the fact that some years ago, we delinked congresses $174,000 salary. one closing question, does anyone dispute here that the district court level at the end of the day you have one judge judging your case? as a result there is no diversity at the table when you are before that one judge running his or her courtroom as he or she sees fit? >> that's correct. as judge myers so aptly pointed out judges wear black robes and >> that's correct. judges wear black robes and they wear them for a reason. regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, class, whatever law school they
attended, whatever state they live in, when they put the robe on are a judge. diversity of opinion does not matter. what matters is judgment and impartiality and application of the law. that is with the black robe represents. so, when a litigant comes before a judge, whether they are female, male, black, white, they are going to be treated fairly and get the same results based on the law. it should not be that a litigant is nervous to find out they drew judge so-and-so because they have an agenda, left, right or otherwise. the judge only has one agenda and that is the law. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. we will turn to the gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> thank you so much, chairman johnson, for convening this
hearing in front of this important subject. am i correct 30% of federal judiciary constitutes judges who are nominated by former president trump? >> i do not have the exact numbers but we applaud any diverse individuals by any party. it is based on qualification and not party affiliation. >> i did not ask about party but specifically about the nominee in terms of who placed the nomination into motion. in terms of his judicial appointments, and let me know if you don't know this statistic, but approximately 90% of former president trump's nominations were white. is that correct?
>> i believe that is actually accurate. >> and am i correct approximately 75% of former president trump's nominations to the federal bench were male? >> i believe that is accurate as well. >> if i understand, he nominated approximately 54 circuit court judges who were confirmed and not a single one of the judges appointed during his presidency to the circuit court were african-american. is that right? >> that is the correct percentage. >> am i correct of the 54 circuit court judges appointed by -- nominated by president trump and confirmed only one was hispanic american? is that correct? >> i do not have that percentage. i believe that is accurate.
>> ok. so, obviously qualifications are paramount in terms of one's capacity to be able to evaluate cases that come before an article iii court. i had the opportunity to clerk in the southern district of new york. as was the case with many of my colleagues, but it does seem in addition to professional qualifications would certainly extend beyond the law school when went to and/or the professional experiences one had beyond white shoe law firm. this is a country that was founded in the principle of e pluribus unum, out of one, many.
the federal bench should seemingly reflect the many. the framers of the constitution thought it was important to the country. in the broadest possible way, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, region, yes, ideology and also life experience. mr. warner, you testified that people spending the majority of their career in private practice or as federal prosecutors comprised approximately 70% of active federal appeals court judges is that right? >> that's right. >> how does this lack of professional diversity impact the court and the justice the american people can expect to receive?
>> well, i think the skill sets on any eventually look at should be considered as we make additional appointments. as we look at any given bench if the bench is entirely full of a former u.s. assistant attorneys and we have no immigration law experts, no defenders, no federal defenders and others with divergent legal expertise, i think it is fair for the public to worry we may be missing other areas of broad, legal expertise we need on our federal bench is. i think it is within these committee's purview to really think about recruiting those types of legal expertise they might be missing on their particular bench to engender trust in the community. >> thank you. i think a congress that is
diverse, morally speaking, is consistent with what we are supposed to be as the house closest to the american people. you want to reflect diversity in every possible way. it seems to me the article iii bench should reflect that as well. thank you, chairman johnson, for this hearing and thank you to all the witnesses and judges who serve this country. >> thank you, sir. next we will go to the judge for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate that. i see that we still have judge myers. is he open to being questioned? >> our first panelists are not questioned today. >> ah, ok. judge myers, thank you for your availability. ms. baceras, we heard earlier
about what it means to walk into a court and identified by race with the judge, the people involved in the court. my experience in federal court was a great deal different. it depended on the client and we were much more concerned with the political leanings and the belief of the judge as to how the client was going to be treated. if you were going into court, would you be more concerned that you were going before a very
activist judge who was known from legislating from the bench who did not care for your political positions or someone that actually, regardless of race, color, gender, any of those things, was actually open-minded that you can see through prior rulings? what would your thought be as you go into that courtroom? >> ms. baceras, you may unmute. >> i got it. my hope would be that whatever of who appointed the judge, regardless of that judge's political views and that judge's personal background, would give me a fair hearing. that is the way it is supposed to work and theoretically there should never be an issue. but, my concern in this day and age would be more that the judge was politically motivated or had political bias. the truth is it doesn't really matter whether there is
political balance in the court if judges are doing what they are supposed to do, which is leaving that political and personal bias at the door when they put on their robes and coming to the bench as neutral arbiters of the law. so balance is not really the issue when it comes to politics. the issue is judicial philosophy and only when we appoint judges who understand their role is not to solve social problems but to solve disputes pursuant to the law, only then can we be sure our clients are getting a fair hearing. >> well, having heard judge clarence thomas brought up earlier i could not agree with you more. i remember miguel estrada.
they left that luminary hanging. left his life in limbo month after month after month and it was -- his treatment was so outrageous. but i'm sure you recall clarence thomas saying he was the wrong black man. his race really made him susceptible to being attacked. but i was glad to hear earlier the comment that we have too many judges from yale and harvard. there are outstanding law schools across this country. some more so in certain fields, but i have been shocked at just how few supreme court justices are considered that went to some other law school no matter how brilliant. i would love to see more diversity in that area.
would you comment about that? >> sure. as a graduate of harvard i cannot say i think there are too many of us out there. >> [laughs] >> but i agree with your basic premise. a lead educational pedigree is not usually the best determinate of what would make a good judge. i was thrilled to see justice barrett bring that to the court. notre dame is a prestigious law school but it is not up with the ranks of harvard and yale. i was pleased to see her bring that diversity and i think she is a perfect example of how, you know, you can find competent, brilliant judges from any law school in the country.
it should not necessarily be, did you go to harvard or yale? the test should be, are you impartial, do you have the integrity, do you have the professional experience after graduating from law school, and frankly, do you have a sound judicial philosophy that will tether your ruling to the constitution and the statutes passed by congress? >> thank you. my time is expired. thank you, mr. chairman and thank you to the witnesses. >> thank you. we will hear from the distinguished gentleman from arizona for five minutes. >> thank, chairman johnson. what an outstanding hearing so far. very educational. thank you to the witnesses for being here today. in my home state of arizona we are lucky. we have 22 federally recognized native american tribes and we are so proud that the first native american woman ever appointed to the judiciary served on the federal district
court here in arizona. that leads me to my first question to mr. warner. president biden named lauren king of the u.s. district court for the western district of washington. is confirmed, she will become the third native american currently sitting on the federal bench. in fact, she will become only the fifth native american ever to serve as a federal judge. that commission you discussed earlier, i wanted to find out, recommending judges for being candidate, how did you account for lack of representation from the native american community and how did you focus on remedying that issue? >> thank you, representative stanton.
washington has 29 federally recognized tribes and still no native american federal judge yet. so, how did the committee approach that work? well, we first focused on the professional experience that was needed and lacking directly on our bench to have somebody with real native law expertise. i will also say there were only a few folks in the pool of applicants with that expertise and that also spoke to us in terms of our committee meeting to do a better job going forward in reaching out to native law experts to be clear with them that, you know, our bench needs them, the white house is interested, and they have an opportunity should they apply to move through the process. that is what we set out to do. we looked in our applicant pool for folks who had deep experience of native law and lauren king rose quickly to the top because of her professional background and experience which also lends to us possibly having the first native american article iii judge in washington.
>> that's great. arizona is part of the ninth circuit. currently there is only one openly gay member of the bench. i want to hear from admiral cruz on this one. lack of judiciary hurts our justice system. how do we make a plan to address such bad disparities in making up our federal bench? >> i am happy to address that first. how do we do that? we expand our networks and rely on organizations. by expanding the network you expand the pipeline. that pipeline will then help move forward grow the candidates that are considered and go to the committee, make it possibly through the committee for selection. and start from law school letting them know about the
possibilities, make sure the communities well with the committee organization. most bar organizations have requirements. we know the individuals in the state, we know the qualifications and are happy to assist in providing news for our candidates to move forward. >> admiral? >> in order to fill the pipeline referred to, all concerned involved in the identification, the attraction, the vetting of traditional candidates need to optimize their processes and intake. perhaps quite drastically and i'm glad mr. warner is highlighting the work in his
venue. bottom line, those involved need to go wider, go deeper, beat the bushes. we are very active with capitalizing on our -- and very active in those areas where there are vacancies -- and we are making sure we address the issues around career possibilities, lack of mentors, role models, and frankly, the lack of leadership development. >> my final question is what can we do to support your efforts to identify and encourage legal professionals to join the judge candidate pool? this is for either mr. warner, admiral cruz, or ms. diaz-yeager. >> representative, i'll start by saying i think appointing diverse commissions is really the key to some of the success that we've had in the western district of washington and my
last answer about lauren king, i should have mentioned that, you know, one of the reasons we have the ability to evaluate tribal expertise is because you have a tribal law expert who represents one of our local tribes on the committee. so we had that expertise to truly say this person or that person will have an ability to bring value to the bench from a professional and diversity standpoint. admiral cruz: if you could influence folks in the other chamber, the senators and all the other community bars, it would be to the benefit of the entire process. ms. diaz-yaeger: expand individuals they hired to work in their office and lead by
example. by leading by example, you can encourage people within your network to do the same and that would help increase the pipeline. chair johnson: thank you. we will now turn to the gentleman from louisiana, mr. johnson, a distinguished lawyer for five minutes. rep. johnson: thank you, mr. chairman. this is an important hearing on this subcommittee is having a second hearing about the importance of a diverse judiciary. the black robe of all judges holds important symbolism, regardless of the judges immutable characteristics or
philosophy, we all believe in our system counts upon them to be fair, impartial and objective. the other symbol is lady justice, she wears a blindfold to show the importance of application of law without corruption or prejudice at all. hopefully all of us would aspire to appoint judges to the bench that it doesn't really matter what their background is, as long as they are fair and impartial in the application of law, but sadly a lot of that is being jeopardized by politics today. that's the situation we find ourselves in. more and more of the american people are losing faith in the institution of the system of justice and that is of great concern. some of my former colleagues at the bar believe, as do many americans, democrats on capitol hill, not all but some, have used it in the confirmation process. some democrats repeatedly opposed women and minority nominees to the bench just because they were chosen by republican presidents. it is a vicious and personal
opposition. we mentioned justice clarence thomas -- ever since his nomination to the supreme court, he has been unfairly targeted and blind and semi ways. senate democrats filibustered did nomination of miguel estrada to the d.c. circuit court the leaked memo said he was especially dangerous because he was latino. democrats opposed amy coney barrett, only the fifth woman to serve on the supreme court received zero votes from democrats even though she was rated well-qualified by the a ba
and has impeccable character and credentials. during her earlier confirmation, we all remember ranking member dianne feinstein outrageously maligned her catholic faith by pronouncing that the dogma lives loudly in you. i want to ask what do you make about the democrats persistent opposition to nominees made by republican presidents? >> we can both say we want to increase the diversity of the bench and reject nominees that would do that. if diversity is of paramount concern, we need to accept it in all forms. rep. johnson: can you think of any other recent examples where democrats say in the u.s. senate, resisted and unfairly maligned and many president trump? >> she did bring diversity to
the court which she was appointed to. it was a historic nomination and it is sad to me to see that people who support, who want to diversify the federal bench only want to do so when those diverse nominees come from their party and do not support them across the aisle. let me take a moment to say i know they bar association has been particularly good. i'm not sure about our recent years but overall, there track record of supporting across the aisle has been good. but that's not necessarily true for the politics and voting.
rep. johnson: i've only got 20 seconds left -- i'm going to state the obvious. all members of this committee should aspire to getting us back to the point where we nominate people on their merit and not necessarily on all these other things and everything else. i don't know how we put that genie back in the bottle so we can restore the american people's faith in our institutions. i'm out of time. i yield back. chair johnson: we will now hear from the extremely distinguished gentlewoman from north carolina, representative ross for five minutes.
rep. ross: thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome, judge myers, it's great to see you and we have somebody from duke who i will be asking a question of in just a few minutes. i have practiced in north carolina. represent of bishop and i talk about this lot. we graduated in the same law school class, so you have a democrat and a republican from north carolina sitting on this judiciary committee. i will say president biden just signed into law a bill that we got through this committee. so i partisan work can be done. but i have seen how partisan these kinds of appointments can be. judge myers knows about how long it took to fill his particular position because of the differences between an administration and are senators.
before judge myers was appointed, there were two african-american women who were rated as very well-qualified who simply were rejected by our senators. one of whom had been elected statewide bise. we need to get past this partisanship and focus on qualifications while we focus on diversifying the bench. i have practiced in the corporate arena and i have practiced before administrative agencies and i've been a civil rights attorney. i can tell you the more diverse the perspective and background that we bring to any collective body making a decision, the
better decisions we are going to get because we cannot simply have an echo chamber of people who see things one way. our judiciary as our legislature and congress need to reflect the people they serve. and need to have the lived experiences of the people that they serve. so i appreciate all of these comments we are getting. i will share one anecdote before i ask my question. i was the youngest woman in the north carolina legislature when i first got elected. the speaker asked me about appointing people to some of these committees will stop i gave him a number of names of highly qualified people and he said where have these people been? and i said mr. speaker, where have you been? and that leads to this next question for mr. warner. in north carolina, when we've gone about appointing judges, occasionally there will be these ad hoc commissions where we will try to get different people's input. but there isn't a more formal process like you have. could you tell us how we can replicate this around the country and get more input from a variety of people so it's not just left up to political winds?
mr. warner: thank you for the question. i will start by thing the cochairs in the current committee would love to help, but i'm also sure senator murray's and cantwell's office would be happy to work with you to implement the process we continue to iterate on in the western district of washington. it's a conversation with the senator's offices to understand the needs of the senator's office along with the white house that every time we have a vacancy we get together and look at our last committee to decide whether we need to add additional members to really reach out and make sure we are finding those people that were already there and we just need to look a little harder. i'm happy to work with you or your staff or make those connections. rep. ross: given that many
judges look to clerks, we look if they have had clerkships, how do we diversify those clerkships? how do we get more people in that pipeline? ms. diaz-yaeger: there are several methods. the first is to look outside their own network and consider different individuals based on their experience, not just which school they went to. the other is to work at the law school level and let these individuals know these opportunities do exist and how to be considered for a clerkship.
many of them, because they don't have the network or connections or family members that are lawyers or judges, they don't understand the process or that this is something that can actually happen to them. if you ask somebody about the clerkship, their responses usually along the lines of its who you know. it is a dual prong approach. looking at the law schools, making sure they understand how you do it and asking judges to broaden their network as to who they would consider. rep. ross: i yield back. my time has expired. chair johnson: we will now proceed to the distinguished businessman from wisconsin. mr. tiffany? rep. tiffany: mr. chairman, you are pouring it on this morning.
i want to say to judge meyer, thank you for being here today. i would like to know who the 20 when people are who voted against you. because we are seeking a diverse judiciary, they cast the wrong vote. admiral cruz, over the last 30 years, have we made progress? admiral cruz: in judiciary? obviously i think we have. i don't have the statistics in front of me. rep. tiffany: i appreciate that, because i think we have, too. you focus on a api judges and senator whitehouse, a democrat from rhode island called her a cartoon of a fake judge. do you think that's an accurate statement? do you think it's an appropriate statement? admiral cruz: it is not a statement i would use. rep. tiffany: thank you very much would also point out that ivy league schools are
discriminating against asian-american students for the record. in regards to miguel estrada -- let me make sure i say this correctly, democrat leadership when he was being considered in the early to thousands, they said he was especially dangerous because he is latino. i find that statement reprehensible, do you? ms. diaz-yaeger: i'm not familiar with the statements that were made. i don't believe statements made on personal traits are appropriate. rep. tiffany: democrats made that statement and i would urge you to look at the boat that was found. it was awful. have we made progress? >> 100% we have. as the numbers i submitted in my testimony show, minority groups are overrepresented in the judiciary compared to their
population. we've done a great job at recruiting people to the bench and getting minority candidates on the bench. it is an important thing to do, we need to continue to do it at the most important thing we need to do is increase the pipeline in the pathway to office. rep. tiffany: but you believe we are making progress as we speak? >> we have made progress and continue to make progress. rep. tiffany: i think i get to things from this hearing. we hear the concern about diversity, but two things are coming out -- we are making real
progress. i listen to the gentleman from washington who has very eloquently stated how they are fixing what is easily the problem out there in terms of recruitment and what we are hearing today is real progress is made and it was as a result of a democrat united states senator who did not have it right that said it would convince her that she needed to take a different approach to getting diversity to the bench. i think there is real progress being made in that way. i think the second thing that has come out of this is as judge mcshane said, there is a problem with where they come from. no offense on the delivery but it sounds like we need to get outside the ivy league schools as far as where we are getting recruits.
what i am hearing is we are making real progress. but it does deeply concerned me that this is an effort to do the same thing as this democrat-run congress did with the farmer and restaurant program, where we now have a federal government that is actively discriminating against certain members of society. this is going to end really badly because i think about that shield that is in our room in the judiciary room that says e pluribus unum. representive jeffries referred to that earlier -- out of many, one. we are seeing active disco nation going on by this congress of the united states and that's not a good direction to be going in. if diversity is the code for judicial activism, this is going to end badly for all americans and i mean it's going to end badly for all americans because i think all americans regardless of race, creed, or color, what they expect when they come into the courtroom as they want to have justice. this is one of the fundamental pillars of a free society, that all men are going to be created equal before the law. let's make sure that is happening through this process. i yelled back and thank you very
much for the competent, strict chairman. chair johnson: thank you, and i might add we have tried hard to steer away from politics in this hearing. diversity on the bench is an attribute that is valuable, not to be disparaged. we can have different views about it and certainly some who may tend toward originalism believe white males interpreting the constitution through the eyes of a white male who existed when the constitution was written suffices for today's realities. but it is scary to people who go to court and all they see is white males on the bench. mr. warner, since you were referred to -- rep. tiffany: i hope you will allow judge myers to make a comment in regard to your
statement. chair johnson: i'm going to yield to mr. warner for his response if he would have one. mr. warner: i would like to be clear that senator murray needed no convincing in reconstituting our committee to broaden the diversity of the group. in fact, i was a bit hesitant to extend our group all the way to 10 members from an administrative perspective, because that was my role. i will tell you i was wrong and that we really did create efficiencies with a larger 10 person committee because that committee truly knew the community and the folks that were hiding in plain sight with the expertise we needed and had connections to the membership. in that way, we are even more
efficient and we have been in the past. i would also say that i believe we have made great progress, but is still the case that we have never had a native american or asian american judge in washington and that's not progress enough, so we have much more work to do. chair johnson: i will now proceed to the distinguished gentlelady and former lieutenant governor of the state of minnesota and also a lawyer, represented fishback for five minutes. rep. fishback: thank you very much, mr. chair and i appreciate the opportunity. i want to thank all of the test of the testa fires for being with us today because i appreciate the perspective and
information. but i do understand one of my colleagues has a few more questions he would like to follow-up on and i would like to yield my time to the good congressman, issa. rep. issa: there's no good questions -- no amount -- it's interesting, i've put about eight members of my staff over 20 years through law school. as i have watch them each go to law school and take the bar, i have been struck by the fact that law school doesn't teach what you need to know to pass the bar and neither of them seemed to teach what you need to know to be a practicing attorney. so i'm going to ask and i will start -- i think each of you can answer this. if we assume that one of my favorite but unheard of songwriters -- any boy could be the president if he was born in the usa, any little girl can, too. we know that to be president, you've got to be 35 and naturally born. if you are 25 years old and graduated from law school, what
is that you do not have that you need to acquire in order to be a federal judge? i would like all of you to answer that in writing, but maybe we will start with one oral answer. >> i would say experience, maturity and judgment. most important quality is good judgment and that takes people several years of practice to acquire. rep. issa: although we don't have strict age, we generally
take someone in their 40's or 50's to be federal judges, so they get the agent some experience. i'm going to follow up since you are a harvard alum, none of the attributes you mentioned have anything to do with the quality of the law school you went to or prestige, correct? >> that is absolutely correct. rep. issa: just to follow-up, because i have practice before the federal bar. when you are before a federal judge, you've got a pretty diverse group of cases, you've got patent, antitrust, a host of criminal cases, obviously immigration, is there any one lawyer you've ever found who came to the bench with the ability and experience in all of those areas? >> no, of course not. i would refer to my own father, who is a judge on the second circuit court of appeals. he was appointed by president carter at the age of 38. the first puerto rican appointed in the continental united states.
many people thought he didn't have the experience of time. he had been a litigator for only a few years and was coming to the bench from being general counsel at yale university. people thought he did not have enough courtroom experience. i would argue, and i hope most of you agree that he turned out to be a fantastic judge, a judge that is respected on both sides of the aisle. you don't have to have experience in every area of the law to be a good judge. most judging you learn on the bench. judges go to judge school and learn from their colleagues and experience. what is most important is not experience in terms of have you tried cases in every single area of the law you might face, the question is do you have the maturity of judgment, a sound judicial philosophy, do you have integrity, and do you have the legal skills to learn on the job
and make decisions quickly and decisively? rep. issa: i'm going to presume if you read alan dershowitz's book from early in the 20th century when there is a proposal to reduce the number of jewish people attending harvard, i would assume you would object to the rejecting the number of harvard appointees in the future? >> our constitution anticipates this is a political process. it left it to a president to make the appointment and the senators to confirm and the senators have a role to play in terms of selecting nominees to the district court and sometimes the court of appeals is wrong. it's all appropriate and within the constitution.
i don't think there should be any arbitrary rules about who they pick or what their background should be. rep. issa: i think it's appropriate to ask the article from the pew research foundation be placed in the record because it quite frankly shows jimmy carter had more appointments than donald trump and, as was just noted, some of them are still on the bench. chair johnson: and i think his were a little more diverse, as well. so noted, and without objection. next, we will hear from the gentleman from wisconsin, mr. fitzgerald, distinguished newspaper publisher, for five minutes.
rep. fitzgerald: thank you, mr. chair. i just wanted to back up a little bit. if we could address what some of the members have touched on and that was a profile being developed by specific courts and a predisposition on how they take cases, receive cases, who presents, which attorneys, either a shopping venue or looking for a specific judge because my experience has been if you want an attorney that practices in a specific court with specific attorneys, you go to one district or another. it is a predisposition that you would make the determination to which you are hoping for the best outcome. let's talk about the circuits. when you are in front of a three-judge panel and you know
i'm not sure how you fix that. but i agree with the premise of your question. rep. fitzgerald: mr. warner, do you have a comment on what we have been discussing today? mr. warner: i will try to answer and say it happens for many reasons. i don't think it's necessarily tied to the diversity we are talking about but one aspect that could be included is new benches, the federal bench in particular have the legal expertise necessary to address the broad issues before the court, so to the extent diversity of legal expertise plays a role in form shopping, the diversity of legal experience is important. rep. fitzgerald: do you have a
comment on that? ms. diaz-yaeger: i agree with what mr. warner said. forum shopping happens for a reason, diversity of experience, diversity of knowledge, diversity of expertise may play into that. rep. fitzgerald: my question and what i have been pondering is there are these judges coming from? why is there this predisposition, whether in the western or eastern district of one of the state or if you end up in the seventh circuit in chicago, whatever it may be, that suddenly it is about the makeup of the judges and their views, which many attorneys are well aware of before they even enter the courthouse. i think that's something to be pondered as much as any other question about race and equity we have heard today. i yelled back. thank you. chair johnson: thank you.
we will now -- let's see -- the gentleman from oregon. you may proceed. >> i would like to begin by giving a shout out to justice mcshane who graduated from the same law school i did and i'm sure is doing wonderfully and whatever the competition structure is. i would like to ask a question -- it happened that i was asked by my predecessor to serve on the review panel for possible appointees into the district court not that long ago.
maybe three or four years. there were seven of us. he was highly political. we had initially to 31 applicants and i said that's too few. we ended up with 45 and we were looking for recommendations into the ninth circuit and there ensued a review of 44 big, huge piles of documents that reflected these peoples absolutely wonderful backgrounds. we reduced it down to 14 and interviewed them, seven one day and seven the next. incredible people, everyone of them. my question is this -- before we went to those interviews -- i didn't just feel inclined to google anybody or anything else, i don't recall any indication in
the application form about race or gender or anything -- my review was without that input. my question to you would be is that the right way to do it or should there have been a form calling out the minority status of these applicants? >> i think that's highly unusual. i served for a magistrate and my husband served for the judicial nominating commission for our state and i've had some informal experience about potential nominees and it has always been, to my understanding, a transparent process in terms of people being given an opportunity to identify their
background. i've never heard of a process that did not identify them by their background. that doesn't mean it's not an acceptable way to do it. but i do think the point you made initially about expanding your search is an important one. you say you started out with a fair number of candidates -- when we talk about the federal bench, recruitment is a big part of that and encouraging people to apply, reaching out and getting the word out that these are opportunities that are available for people to throw their hat in the ring. i think the main way to get diversity -- the law school graduates who are people of color would be in terms of recruiting and getting people to throw their hats in the ring. that's where we can make the biggest difference, i believe.
rep. bentz: i think a number of folks have bumped into this -- we are condemning the current folks on the bench, by saying they are inadequate as a group, not adequately representative of different portions of our population. this is not to say i support not having minorities, i totally am in support of having a balanced bench as long as we don't give away, as mr. johnson mentioned, the primary focus on merit. how would you measure that
inadequacy now? we've heard about the district court level when a minority comes before a nonminority judge. but what would you say as far as the inadequacy of representation of minorities? mr. warner: i would not say we are in an inadequate place on our western district bench. we are proud of our diversity there. the reality is we have several judges retired and so we have five vacancies. those five vacancies are coming up now in a context where we have more diversity within her legal community than we did 15 years ago. the judiciary should continue to reflect the changing landscape of our local community. so we were intentional about doing so in this process. chair johnson: thank you and i neglected to point out the fact that you, yourself have served admirably as an attorney, a
partner at a law firm for decades and also a farmer, so thank you for your service. i believe we have exhausted the number of representatives who are available for questions. so we are at the conclusion of today's hearing. i would like to thank all of the panelists for appearing in for their testimony. without objection, all members have five legislative days to submit additional questions for the witnesses or materials for the record. with that, our hearing is adjourned. by the way, i liked the bolo tie, representative issa. >> thank you. being in the west, it seemed appropriate to wear today. i'm in san diego, so you know, in the land of ronald reagan, an
open shirt would be inappropriate, but not this tie. so thank you again for holding nis hearing. i think we all benefited. i would like to remind all the witnesses that i did ask for an in-writing list of those characteristics they think theye most important in the way of skill sets before coming to the bench because i think the diversity of their answers could both help well, you and myself. >> thank you, and i want to