Padilla Urges Confirmation of Judges Montenegro, Slaughter, Corley to California District Courts
Watch: Padilla speaks in support of California judicial nominees on the Senate Floor ahead of confirmation votes
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 the confirmation of three highly qualified nominees to serve on the federal bench in California. The slate of nominees includes Judge Ruth Montenegro, who is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California; Judge Fred Slaughter, who is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; and Judge Jacqueline Corley, who is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“Our democracy depends on public faith in the judiciary and that’s why I’m committed to building a bench of judges who better reflect and understand the country they serve,” said Senator Padilla. “I’m proud to take another step toward that goal by supporting the confirmation of these three judges today and will continue to work closely with the Biden administration to recommend and support talented nominees for California’s district courts.”
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.
Remarks as delivered are below:
Mr. President, I rise to speak on behalf of a few federal judge nominees from the state of California, recognizing that right now, many Americans are certainly following news and potential news in the federal judiciary focusing on a nominee to the United States Supreme Court.
And as a member of the Judiciary Committee, I certainly look forward to hearing more from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson next week as we conduct her confirmation hearing.
The choices of the Supreme Court are certainly critical for the future of our democracy.
But the fact of the matter is, and Mr. President, you know I like numbers and you know I like data, so the important data point here is that it’s only a tiny percentage of cases in our federal court system that actually reach the United States Supreme Court.
In fact, more than 90 percent of federal cases are decided at the district court level.
That means the vast majority of people who interface with the federal judiciary will only ever meet a district court judge sitting on the other side of the bench — whether they’re a witness to a crime, whether they’re a party to a lawsuit, or a defendant in a criminal case.
And so that’s one of the primary reasons why I’ve worked so closely with the Biden administration to help identify, and recommend, and support talented nominees for California’s district courts.
And today, I rise highlight three nominees to serve as federal judges whose confirmation process we are beginning today.
Judge Ruth Montenegro is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to this country with only an elementary school education, just like my parents. Judge Montenegro understood early on, because of her parents’ experience and their journey, the value of getting a good education and of public service starting at a very young age.
She was born and raised in the Imperial Valley, where she returned after graduating from UCLA Law School. Like so many of us, you know, you’re trying to fulfill your parents’ dreams, you go onto college, get a good education, you graduate, have options all over and choose to come home to make a difference.
Judge Montenegro built a career representing public agencies—could’ve made a lot of money in the private sector—she chose to represent public agencies ranging from the Imperial Valley Housing Authority to the El Centro Elementary School District.
She’s served for nearly ten years now as a state Superior Court and federal Magistrate Judge.
Judge Montenegro’s extensive judicial experience and lifelong dedication to her community—I have no doubt—will strengthen the Southern District’s bench.
Next, I’d like to highlight Judge Fred Slaughter, who is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Now, Judge Slaughter received his undergraduate and his law degrees from UCLA, going on to a distinguished career as a prosecutor.
For more than a decade, he served as an Assistant US Attorney—in Arizona, Oregon, and California, where he oversaw and tried hundreds of cases, including cases involving human trafficking, bank robberies, and prosecuting members of white supremacist groups.
Judge Slaughter has spent the past eight years serving on the Orange County Superior Court.
There, he is known for his compassion and leadership in juvenile justice.
Judge Slaughter’s long career demonstrates his legal excellence as well as his commitment to providing justice for all.
Finally, Judge Jacqueline Corley is nominated to serve on the Northern District of California.
She’s a native of Long Beach, she earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School.
Judge Corley’s nontraditional path to the bench displays her commitment to public service.
After spending some time in private practice, she spent more than ten years as a career law clerk on the Northern District of California.
Based on her outstanding work in that role, and the expertise that she built in private practice prior, Judge Corley was selected to serve as a magistrate judge for the Northern District.
She has served there for the past decade, and is known for her mentorship of current law clerks.
So, I celebrate each of these highly qualified nominees, who will help Californians access justice throughout our state.
When people enter a federal court, they should feel confident in the promise of equal justice. The equal justice that I know these nominees will help deliver.
The oversight and judgment of a thoughtful and fair judge is paramount.
Our democracy depends on the public faith in the judiciary and that’s why I’m committed to building a bench of judges who better reflect and understand the district, the state, and the country that they serve.
Mr. President, I’m proud to take another step towards that goal by supporting the confirmation of these three judges and I urge all of our colleagues to do the same.
Thank you, Mr. President; I yield the floor.