Padilla Delivers Speech in Support of Federal Judges to California District Courts￼
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke on the Senate floor in support of three judicial nominees to serve on California district courts. During his remarks, Padilla spoke to the qualifications of Judges Trina Thompson to become a judge for the Northern District of California and Sunshine Sykes to become a judge for the Central District of California. He also applauded Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett, who was confirmed last month to serve on the District Court for the Central District of California. All three nominees are women of color, and Judge Sykes will be the first Native American to ever serve on a federal court in California.
“The past few weeks have been a wakeup call to see the stakes of our fight for a fair judiciary,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “From abortion rights to free speech to gun violence, federal judges make countless decisions that shape our lives. But our current federal bench is not representative of the diversity of our democracy. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild a judiciary that deserves the faith of the American people.”
Senator Padilla is committed to rebuilding a federal judiciary that better reflects and understands the America it serves. Within weeks of being sworn in to the Senate, Padilla established a Judicial Evaluation Commission that is approximately 70 percent attorneys of color and a majority women to evaluate candidates for federal judicial vacancies in California. Over the last year, Senator Padilla has worked closely with the Biden administration to recommend and support the nominations of highly-qualified, outstanding judges to the federal courts.
A downloadable version of Padilla’s remarks can be found here.
Padilla’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery are below:
Mr. President, for many people, the past few weeks have been a wakeup call to see the stakes of our fight for a fair judiciary.
From abortion rights to free speech to gun violence, federal judges make countless decisions that shape our lives.
But our current federal bench is not representative of the diversity of our democracy.
We have a lot of work to do to rebuild a judiciary that deserves the faith of the American people.
To build a judiciary that reflects and understands the nation it serves.
I’m proud of the step forward we took with the recent confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
But there is far more work to do—especially at the lower court level, where almost all federal cases are heard.
That’s why I continue to work closely with the Biden administration to recommend and support talented nominees for California’s district courts.
Nominees who will bring a wide range of professional and lived experiences to the federal bench.
Today, I want to highlight three outstanding nominees to California’s district courts.
First, the Senate will soon vote on the confirmation of Judge Trina Thompson to become a judge for the Northern District of California.
Judge Thompson has deep roots serving the community of Alameda County.
After earning her undergraduate degree and her JD from UC Berkeley, she began her legal career with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, and eventually built a successful solo practice in criminal defense.
Over the next decade, she handled dozens of criminal trials, and she continued to work with the County Public Defender’s Office to take on pro bono clients in the community.
A legal trailblazer, Judge Thompson became the first Black woman to win election to serve as a judge in Alameda County.
She has continually demonstrated her sense of fairness, commitment to justice, and dedication to the rule of law.
I know Judge Thompson will continue to pave the road to equal justice on the bench of the Northern District, and I urge my colleagues to support her nomination.
Next, we will soon vote on Judge Sunshine Sykes’ confirmation to become a judge for the Central District of California.
A member of the Coyote Pass Clan of the Navajo Nation, Judge Sykes is devoted to pursuing justice for those who have too often been left behind by our legal system.
Judge Sykes earned her undergraduate degree and her JD from Stanford University.
After law school, she chose to begin her legal career with California Indian Legal Services.
Judge Sykes built a reputation as a skillful adviser and advocate for tribes addressing a wide range of legal matters, from addressing domestic violence to developing Tribal courts and preserving cultural resources.
She also developed an expertise in juvenile dependency cases under the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Recognizing Judge Sykes’ outstanding work, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to California’s Superior Court in 2013.
Over the past nine years, she has presided over nearly 100 cases.
She will bring an impressive legal record, work ethic, and sense of empathy to her judgeship for the Central District.
If confirmed, Judge Sykes will also be the first Native American to ever serve on a federal court in California. I look forward to her distinguished service in the Central District.
Finally, I’d like to speak for a moment as well about Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett, who was confirmed last month to serve on the US District Court for the Central District of California.
Judge Garnett brings an outstanding record as a lawyer, a jurist, and a public servant committed to equal justice.
Judge Garnett earned her undergraduate degree from UC Riverside and her JD from Harvard Law School.
After starting her career in private practice, Judge Garnett became an Assistant US Attorney for the Central District of California.
Judge Garnett spent 13 years serving in that office, earning numerous awards and leadership positions.
Recognizing her hard work and record of excellence as a litigator, Governor Brown appointed Judge Garnett to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2014.
For eight years, she served with distinction as a Superior Court judge and a Justice Pro Tem on the California Court of Appeal.
She now brings this experience to the federal bench as a judge for the Central District.
Voices like hers—and voices like Judge Thompson, and Judge Sykes—have been left out of our judiciary for too long.
All three of these nominations, of outstanding women of color, represent progress.
I celebrate each of these jurists, and I thank them for their willingness to serve.
With each of their confirmations, we move another step closer to a fair judiciary.
Towards the justice system that our democracy deserves.
I’m proud of our progress in California, and I look forward to keeping up this work.
Thank you, Mr. President; I yield the floor.