Wednesday, May 13, 2009


About three dozen prominent Hispanic New Mexicans want President Barack Obama to consider Santa Fe Native and NM Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Justice David Souter announced he plans to retire at the end of the current court's term.

A UNM Law School graduate, Chavez has said court's "Cannot ration justice."

Chavez has been an advocate for government transparency and accountability.

In January, Chavez delivered this biennial State of the Judiciary to lawmakers.

He told lawmakers:
The budgetary challenges we face will foster a coalescence of the three branches of government around our shared mission to establish justice.
Michael Coleman with the Albuquerque Journal reports the letter to Obama was signed by Former New Mexico Governor Jerry Apodaca, State Senator Linda Lopez, Representatives Antonio Maestas and Eliseo Lee Alcon and UNM Law Professor Antonette Sedillo Lopez.

Hipanics, who make up 15% of the country's population, have urged Obama to pick a Hispanic for the court. Only about 4% of federal judges are Hispanic.

Other Hispanics mentioned as leading candidates for the court appointment include 54-year-old Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since 1998.

In addition to Sotomayor, several other Hispanic jurists have been mentioned including Maria Rivera, who serves on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; Vanessa Ruiz, from the D.C. Court of Appeals; Martha Vasquez, from the US District Court in New Mexico; and Kim McLane Wardlaw, who serves on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Chavez earned his undergraduate degree at Eastern New Mexico in 1978 and his law degree at UNM in 1981. Chavez later worked at the law school as an adjunct professor.

In his January 29th State of the Judicary Report, “Scarcity Clarifies our Mission to Establish Justice” Chavez spoke about access to the courts and speedy trials:
The human consequences of court delays should excite caution against rationing justice....It remains our solemn responsbility to accelerate the progress of a justic system that must be accessible, fair, impartial efficient and most importantly accountable to the people of New Mexico.
Chavez also outlined his view on the role of government.

Our Founding Fathers built afoundation for government by separating the legislative, executive, and judicial functions,and detailing their respective powers in the body of the Constitution. But after they penned those words, the Founding Fathers realized that they had left no written guarantees for the rights of private citizens. They had assumed that everyone who exercised the awesome powers of government would also recognize their responsibility.

Chavez' court bio says he was in private practice for 22 years and served on several community boards, including President of the Legal Aid Society in New Mexico and Chairman of UNM's Mental Health Center.

No comments: