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