Villaraigosa counsel joining Obama team

Thomas A. Saenz, the in-house counsel to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has been selected to head the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reports today based on unidentified sources. Saenz, 42, is the former vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The DJ's Sandra Hernandez says Saenz clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, while Saenz wouldn't comment, other lawyers praised the choice.

"I don't think the president or attorney general could make a better selection," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. "He's a throwback to the great civil rights attorney pioneers, like Thurgood Marshall."

Rosenbaum praised Saenz's work challenging the legality of voter measures, ranging from Proposition 187, the ballot initiative that sought to cut off social and education services to undocumented immigrants, to his work on the University of Michigan case challenging the legality of affirmative action in admissions. Grutter v Bollinger, 02-241 (S.Ct.).

"I think Tom is a terrific choice," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert and founding dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law.

Previously on LA Observed:
Antonio names ethics adviser

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Politics stories on LA Observed:
David Ryu and candidate Mike Fong
Tronc buys (NY) Daily News, La Tuna fire aftermath and more
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Garcetti has weekend date in the Hamptons
Garcetti hitting the road to New Hampshire
LA Confederate monument coming down
LA Observed Notes: Back from vacation and into the fray
Rendon fights for neglected Southeast


LA Observed on Twitter