Judge Ramon Reyes – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

A federal magistrate judge with sixteen years on the bench, Judge Ramon Reyes is a relatively conventional nominee from the Biden Administration for the Eastern District bench.

Background

Reyes received a B.Sc. from Cornell University in 1988, a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1992 and an LLM. from the New York University School of Law in 1992. Reyes then clerked for Judge David Trager on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York before joining O’Melveny & Myers in New York City.

In 1998, Reyes joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as an AUSA.

In 2006, Reyes became a federal magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. He serves on that court today.

History of the Seat

Reyes has been nominated to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. This seat opened on July 23, 2022 when Judge Kiyo Matsumoto moved to senior status.

Legal Career

Reyes started his legal career by clerking on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. He then worked as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers in New York City. While at the firm, Reyes represented the Insurance Company of North America in a liability suit regarding damages from the cleanup of environmental damage caused at natural gas lines. See Interstate Power Co. v. Insurance Co. of N. Am., 603 N.W.2d 751 (Iowa 1999).

From 1998 to 2006, Reyes worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as a federal prosecutor. At the office, Reyes handled civil charges, including defending against a Title VII lawsuit alleging employment discrimination brought by a postal worker. See Brown v. Henderson, 115 F. Supp. 2d 445 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Postal Service and Reyes argued the case on appeal before the Second Circuit, which affirmed. See Brown v. Henderson, 257 F.3d 246 (2d Cir. 2001). He also defended the constitutionality of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. See Kalsson v. United States FEC, 356 F. Supp. 2d 371 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).

Jurisprudence

Reyes has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge since his appointment in 2006. In this role, Reyes handles arraignments, bail hearings, and discovery disputes. Additionally, Reyes also presides over cases by the consent of the parties. One of the trials he presided over involved a naming dispute between Patsy’s Italian Restaurant and Patsy’s Pizzeria. See John Marzulli, Jury Mulls Name Fight of 2 Patsy’s. W. Side Spot, Harlem Pizzeria Battle, New York Daily News, Apr. 9, 2008. Reyes ruled that both eateries were barred from using only the name “Patsy’s.” See Simone Weichselbaum, Eateries Can’t Stand Pat(sy), Judge Insists, New York Daily News, Sept. 10, 2008.

Reyes also handled a sexual contact charge against an Orthodox rabbi involving allegations that he touched the groin and breast of an Israeli army officer sitting next to him. See John Marzulli, Rabbi Groped Me on Flight, Faking Sleep. Israeli Dad of 11 Denies All, New York Daily News, May 5, 2011. Reyes found the defendant guilty, finding the victim’s testimony “compelling and wholly believable.” See John Marzulli, Rabbi Guilty in Grope of Female Soldier, New York Daily News, May 6, 2011. Reyes sentenced the defendant to 60 days in jail. See John Marzulli, Perv Rabbi Gets 60 Days in Jail, New York Daily News, May 5, 2011.

Writings

Over the course of his legal career, Reyes has occasionally commented on the law. For example, as a magistrate, Reyes coauthored a paper discussing the Eastern District’s efforts to manage a flood of lawsuits brought about as a result of Hurricane Sandy. See Cheryl L. Pollak, Ramon E. Reyes, & Robyn Weinstein, Esq., “Hurricane” Sandy: A Case Study of the Eastern District of New York’s Effort to Address Mass Litigation Resulting From the Effects of Climate Change, 5 Tex. A&M J. Prop. L. 158 (2019).

As an associate at O’Melveny, Reyes authored an article discussing the home taping of copyrighted audio soundtracks. See Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., Can the Common Law Adequately Justify a Home Taping Royalty Using Economic Efficiency Alone?, 16 N.Y.L. Sch. J. Int’l & Comp. L. 235 (1996). The article details the various regimes different countries have employed to account for losses from the home copying of copyrighted materials, criticizing the use of a “home taping royalty” or a surcharge on the purchase of recording devices and blank tapes as a method of addressing this issue. See id. at 263-64. In another article, Reyes extrapolates from a settlement between Australia and Nauru to cover damages caused by phosphate mining at Nauru that international law establishes a fiduciary duty for administering bodies to properly manage colonies and territories. See Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., Nauru v. Australia: The International Fiduciary Duty and the Settlement of Nauru’s Claims for Rehabilitation of its Phosphate Lands, 16 N.Y.L. Sch. J. Int’l & Comp. L. 1 (1996).

Overall Assessment

It is unlikely that Reyes will face much opposition in the confirmation process. His tenure as a magistrate judge and an AUSA has been relatively uneventful and his experience would allow him to hit the ground running as a district court judge.

Arun Subramanian – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Susman Godfrey partner Arun Subramaniam has spent the last fifteen years at one of New York’s most prominent white shoe law firms. He is now poised to become the first Indian American judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Background

Arun Subramanian graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2001 and then from Columbia Law School in 2004. After graduating, Subramanian clerked for Judge Dennis Jacobs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge Gerard Lynch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Lynch, a former Columbia law professor, would later be elevated to the Second Circuit himself). Subramanian then clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court (alongside future federal judges Eric Murphy (Kennedy), Dan Bress (Scalia), and future Senator Mike Lee).

Subramanian then joined the firm of Susman Godfrey, where he still serves as a partner.

History of the Seat

Subramanian has been tapped for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to a seat vacated by Judge Alison Nathan’s elevation to the Second Circuit on March 31, 2022. He was recommended for the position by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. See Tim Balk, Chuck Touts Three Judges for Fed Courts, Daily News, June 10, 2022.

Legal Career

Subramanian has spent his entire legal career post-clerkship at the firm of Susman Godfrey, where he has worked primarily in commercial litigation and advisory work. Subramanian’s work also included bankruptcy cases. See, e.g., Buchwald Capital Advisors LLC v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 447 B.R. 170 (S.D.N.Y. Bankr. 2011).

Notably, Subramanian represented a class of plaintiffs suing Barclays and other banks for manipulating interest rates. See Maureen Farrell, Barclays Not Alone in Rate-Fixing Scandal, CNNMoney.com, July 3, 2012. Subramanian also represented the parents of DNC staffer Seth Rich in a suit against Fox News alleging that the network’s promotion of conspiracy theories about Rich’s death intentionally caused them emotional distress. See Rich v. Fox News Network LLC., 939 F.3d 112 (2d Cir. 2019).

In other matters, Subramanian has represented parties on the appellate level in New York state courts, see, e.g., Transparent Value, LLC v. Johnson, 93 A.3d 599 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012), and on the federal level. See, e.g., Gelboin v. Bank of Am. Corp., 823 F.3d 759 (2d 2015). Notably, Subramanian argued before the Federal Circuit, convincing the court to reverse the dismissal of a patent infringement action. See BASCOM Global Internet Servs. V. AT&T Mobility LLC, 827 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

Writings and Statements

In his role as an attorney, Subramanian has occasionally commented in the media. For example, as part of his role in the Barclays lawsuit, Subramanian was quoted in an article discussing the manipulation of interest rates by big banks. See James O’Toole, Big Banks at Center of Interest Rate Probe, CNNMoney.com, Mar. 11, 2012. See also James O’Toole, Lawsuits Against Banks Loom in Libor Scandal, CNNMoney.com, July 6, 2012.

Political Activity

Subramanian has been a frequent donor to Democratic party candidates for office, giving more than $58000 over the last fifteen years, including a $10000 contribution to Governor Kathy Hochul’s campaign in 2022.

Overall Assessment

With a star-studded resume and extensive experience with the commercial litigation that makes up a large part of the Southern District of New York’s docket, Subramanian makes for a qualified, if conventional, judicial nominee.

P. Casey Pitts – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Altshuler Berzon partner P. Casey Pitts has spent most of his career as a union-side labor lawyer. He is now poised to join the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where he would be the only judge to identify as LGBTQ.

Background

Pitts got his B.A. from Yale University in 2003 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2008. After graduating, Pitts clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then joined Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco, serving currently as a Partner in the firm.

History of the Seat

Casey has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to a seat vacated on December 15, 2021, by Judge Lucy Koh’s elevation to the Ninth Circuit.

Legal Experience

Pitts has spent his entire legal career at the left-leaning law firm Altshuler Berzon LLP (co-founded by Ninth Circuit liberal lion Marsha Berzon). At the firm, Pitts focused primarily on union-side labor law. Notably, Pitts represented the Writers Guild of America in a suit challenging talent agencies from accepting packaging fees from studios. See Writers Guild Suggests Judge’s Recusal in Agency Packaging Suit, Variety, May 1, 2019. The suit ended in a settlement. See Bryan Koenig, Writers Guild Cuts Deal With Last Talent Agency in Fee Suit, Law360, Feb. 8, 2021. Pitts also represented SEIU Local 668 in defending against a claim seeking repayment of union dues. See Bill Wichert, 3d Circ. Nixes Post-Janus Challenges to Union Dues, Law360, Jan. 19, 2021.

Among non-labor matters, Pitts argued before the California Court of Appeals on behalf of a class of plaintiffs challenging alleged false advertising on behalf of Apple Inc. See Justices Recharge iPhone Marketing Suit Against Apple, ICT Monitor Worldwide, Sept. 16, 2014. Pitts also represented a transgender employee fired by Tower Loan after he refused to sign a document stating that he was not in compliance with their personnel policies. See Civil Rights Groups Sue National Finance Company for Illegally Firing Transgender Employee, Targeted News Service, Apr. 13, 2015.

Statements and Writings

As a law student, Pitts authored an article critical of the military’s then policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” arguing that it hurts recruitment among the youth. See P. Casey Pitts, To Young People, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Means “Don’t Enlist,”, 116 Yale L.J. Pocket Part. 254 (November 14, 2006).

Overall Assessment

Pitts is facing a tight deadline to get confirmed by the end of the year. If not confirmed, Pitts’ confirmation would depend on Democrats keeping the Senate as it’s unlikely that a Republican senate would find him an acceptable nominee.

Charnelle Bjelkengren – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington is poised to get a new judge, with the Biden Administration putting forward the nomination of Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren to replace Judge Salvador Mendoza.

Background

Charnelle Marie Bjelkengren received her B.A. from Mankato State University University in 1997 and a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2000. Bjelkengren then served as an assistant attorney general for the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

In 2013, Bjelkengren became an administrative judge for the Office of Administrative Hearings with Washington State.

In 2019, Bjelkengren was appointed to be a Superior Court judge in Washington, where she currently serves.

History of the Seat

Bjelkengren has been nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. This seat opened on September 16, 2022, when Judge Salvador Mendoza was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Legal Experience

Between 2001 and 2013, Bjelkengren served as an assistant attorney general with the Washington Attorney General’s Office. Among her duties with the office, Bjelkengren defended the administrative suspensions of the licenses of drivers convicted of DUI. See, e.g., In re License Suspension of Richie, 113 P.3d 1045 (Wash. App. 2005). She also handled administrative disputes involving employment benefits. See, e.g., Markam Group, Inc. v. Employment Sec. Dep’t, 200 P.3d 748 (Wash. App. 2009).

Jurisprudence

From 2013 to 2019, Bjelkengren worked as an administrative law judge, working with the Employment Security Department and the Department of Social and Health Services. In 2019, Bjelkengren was appointed to the Spokane County Superior Court, becoming the first black female judge in Eastern Washington. See Will Campbell, Inslee Appoints 1st Black Female Judge in E. Washington, Spokesman Review, Apr. 11, 2019.

Overall Assessment

Bjelkengren has attracted little controversy throughout her career, and that is likely to continue in the confirmation process.

Judge Gordon Gallagher – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Judge Gordon Gallagher, who has served as a federal magistrate judge for the past decade, is Biden’s fourth nominee to the federal district court bench in Colorado.

Background

Gordon Gallagher attended Macalester College in St. Paul, graduating in 1991. He then received a J.D. from the University of Denver Strum Law School in 1996.

After graduating, Gallagher spent two years at Underhill and Underhill P.C. and then joined the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office. In 2000, Gallagher became a solo practitioner.

In 2012, Gallagher was appointed to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge and has served as such since.

History of the Seat

Gallagher has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. This seat will open on February 10, 2023 when Judge William Martinez takes senior status. Gallagher was previously recommended by Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to replace Judge Christine Arguello, but fellow magistrate judge Nina Wang was chosen instead. Gallagher was then nominated to replace Martinez.

Legal Experience

Gallagher began his legal career at the firm of Underhill and Underhill P.C. before spending two years as a state prosecutor. However, the vast majority of his pre-bench career was spent as a solo practitioner, where he worked primarily in criminal defense. Among his notable cases, Gallagher represented Cheyenne Corbett, a teen mom charged with murder for the death of her baby shortly after it was born. See Teen Mom Charged with Murder Invoked Privacy Law, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 28, 2006.

Jurisprudence

Gallagher has served as a federal magistrate judge since his appointment in 2012. In this role, he presides by consent over civil matters and misdemeanors, assists district judges with discovery and settlement, and writes reports and recommendations on legal issues. Among the cases that he presided over, Gallagher handled a number of cases involving damage to federal lands. For example, he found Scott Wagner guilty of damage for building an unapproved pond partially on federal property. See Man Found Guilty for Altering and Damaging Forest Service Lands Within the Gunnison National Forest, Targeted News Service, Dec. 7, 2012. In another case, Gallagher sentenced Earl Bennett to a year of probation and $30000 in restitution for illegally building a road on federal property. See Man Sentenced for Illegally Building Road on U.S. Forest Service Land, U.S. Fed News, Aug. 27, 2018.

Writings and Statements

Gallagher has made a couple of media statements in his role as an attorney. For example, in 2003, Gallagher commented on the performance of Pamela Mackey, the defense attorney for Kobe Bryant in his rape trial. See Mike Wiggins and Michael C. Bender, Questions of Ethical Propriety Arise Over Bryant’s Defense, Cox News Service, Oct. 10, 2003.

Overall Assessment

Throughout his legal career, Gallagher has held a variety of positions, including as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer, and a judge. As such, his qualifications for a federal judgeship are undeniable. If Gallagher is given a hearing this Congress, he will likely be confirmed easily. However, given that Martinez is not taking senior status until next February and that a Republican senate might find Gallagher an acceptable nominee, it wouldn’t be surprising if Democrats prioritized other judges.

Judge Jeffery Hopkins – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Judge Jeffery Hopkins has served as a federal bankruptcy judge in Ohio for twenty-five years and is now poised to gain a lifetime appointment to the district court bench.

Background

Born in Georgia, Jeffery Hopkins was drawn to the law because an uncle, Robert Hall, was murdered by Georgia sheriff Claude Screws while trying to execute an arrest. Screws’ conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. See Screws v. U.S., 325 U.S. 91 (1945). Hopkins subsequently received a B.A. from Bowdoin College in 1982 and his J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 1985. After graduation, Hopkins was hired as a clerk by Judge Alan Norris on the Ohio Court of Appeals. When Norris was appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit the following year, Hopkins followed him as a clerk on that court.

Subsequently, Hopkins spent three years at Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP (now Squire Patton Boggs) before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 1996, Hopkins was appointed to be a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, and has served as such ever since.

In 2009, Hopkins was recommended to replace Judge Sandra Beckwith on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, alongside U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Black and Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman. See Jessica Wehrman and Steve Bennish, Wiseman Finalist for Bench; Sen. Sherrod Brown Will Meet With Her, Two Others Before Recommending His Choice For Federal Court Vacancy, Dayton Daily News, June 26, 2009. However, the Obama Administration nominated and appointed Black instead after he was the final choice of Ohio senators.

History of the Seat

Hopkins has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. This seat was vacated on May 18, 2022, when Judge Timothy Black moved to senior status. Hopkins applied with a selection commission put together by Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Republican and was recommended to the White House by the senators. He was nominated on July 29, 2022.

Legal Experience

After clerking for Judge Norris on the state and federal benches, Hopkins joined the Cincinnati office of Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP (now Squire Patton Boggs), where he represented the Bexley City School District in fighting a teacher’s suit seeking a continued teaching contract. See State ex rel. Fraysier v. Bexley City Sch. Bd. of Educ., 583 N.E.2d 1000 (Ohio App. 1989).

Hopkins then shifted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he worked in the Civil Division. Hopkins would become Chief of the Civil Division by March 1993. Among the cases he handled there, Hopkins represented the government in bankruptcy matters. See, e.g., In re Ernst & Young, Inc., 129 B.R. 147 (S.D. Ohio Bankr. 1991).

Jurisprudence

Since 1996, Hopkins has served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which covers much of Southern Ohio. In that capacity, Hopkins reviews federal bankruptcy filings and proceedings.

Among the cases he handled, Hopkins approved the sale of Cambridge Eye Associates and Douglas Vision Worlds, two Cincinnati based vision companies to Davis Vision Inc., a New York based company. See Ben Fidler, Davis Vision Wins Sight Resource, The Deal, Apr. 12, 2005.

Among his notable rulings, Hopkins allowed Troulies Ledbetter to discharge one of his student loans through the bankruptcy process, finding that it imposed an undue hardship. See In re Ledbetter, 254 B.R. 714 (S.D. Ohio Bankr. 2000). However, he declined to discharge a second loan that Ledbetter held, finding it ineligible for discharge. See id. at 717. In another ruling, Hopkins permitted the discharge of an obligation to hold a spouse harmless on joint debts, finding that it did not constitute a non-dischargeable award of alimony. See Davis v. Davis, 261 B.R. 659 (S.D. Ohio Bankr. 2001).

Overall Assessment

Recommended for the federal bench by Ohio’s bipartisan duo of senators, Hopkins should see little trouble with a comfortable confirmation. If Hopkins is not confirmed this Congress however, the election of a new senator to replace Portman in Ohio may complicate his path to the bench.

Judge Daniel Calabretta – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

Having filled two vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Biden is now seeking to fill the last with state judge Daniel Calabretta, who would be, if confirmed, the first LGBTQ judge on the Eastern District’s bench.

Background

Born Daniel Joe Powell, Calabretta received a B.A. from Princeton University in 2000 and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 2003. He then clerked for Judge William Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. His class on the Supreme Court that session included future federal judges Julius Richardson (Rehnquist) and Martha Pacold (Thomas). After his clerkships, Calabretta joined Munger, Tolles & Olson as an associate. In 2008, Calabretta joined the California Attorney General’s Office under Jerry Brown and then joined Brown’s gubernatorial staff in 2013.

In 2018, Brown named Calabretta to the Sacramento County Superior Court, where he has served since.

History of the Seat

Calabretta has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, to a seat vacated on April 27, 2022 by Judge John Mendez.

Legal Experience

Calabretta started his legal career as a law clerk on the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court but then spent three years at Munger Tolles and Olson, a firm that has produced numerous federal judges, including Ninth Circuit Judges Paul Watford, John Owens, Michelle Freidland, Dan Collins, and Gabriel Sanchez, as well as Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Calabretta subsequently spent five years at the California Attorney General’s Office. During that time, Calabretta represented the Attorney General’s office in the suit challenging California’s ban on same sex marriage. See Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 630 F.3d 909 (9th Cir. 2011). He also represented the state in a lawsuit regarding the funding and construction of a state prison hospital. See Rich Saskal, Receiver Offers California Break In Prison Health Care Lawsuit, The Bond Buyer, Oct. 7, 2008. Calabretta also argued before the Ninth Circuit in this role, defending California’s practice of collecting DNA samples from those facing felony charges. See Paul Elias, Calif. AG Defends DNA Samples from Felony Arrestees, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 13, 2010.

Finally, Calabretta spent five years working for Governor Jerry Brown as deputy legal affairs secretary before his appointment to the bench.

Jurisprudence

Since 2018, Calabretta has served as a Superior Court judge in Sacramento County. In this role, she presides over civil, criminal, and domestic cases. Calabretta currently serves as presiding judge on the Juvenile Court.

Writings and Statements

While at Munger, Calabretta co-authored a regular column with fellow Munger lawyers and Supreme Court clerks Friedland (O’Connor), Jeff Bleich (Rehnquist), and Aimee Feinberg (Breyer) discussing the Supreme Court. For example, one column from 2007 discusses the lack of cameras at the Supreme Court, suggesting changes that the Court can take to be more accessible such as releasing oral argument recordings on the same day of the argument (the Supreme Court currently releases transcripts the same day and audio at the end of the week). See Jeff Bleich, Michelle Freidland, Aimee Feinberg, and Daniel Powell, Supreme Court Watch: A Court Without Cameras, 33 San Francisco Att’y 52 (Winter 2007).

In another column, the foursome discuss the jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens, describing him as “independent and hard to categorize politically.” See Jeff Bleich, Michelle Freidland, Aimee Feinberg, and Daniel Powell, Supreme Court Watch: John Paul Stevens – An Independent Voice, 33 San Francisco Att’y 44 (Spring 2007).

In a notable column, the authors discuss Chief Justice Roberts’ commitment to precedent, noting: “In a series of high-profile decisions this term, the Court expressed continued respect for precedents while effectively overruling them or limiting them to their narrow facts.” Jeff Bleich, Michelle Freidland, Aimee Feinberg, and Daniel Powell, Supreme Court Watch: Stealth Overrulings – Overturning Precedent Without Saying So, 33 San Francisco Att’y 43 (Fall 2007). The column goes on to discuss a number of rulings that go against prior precedent, without expressly overruling them, including the Gonzales v. Carhart decision that upheld a ban on “partial-birth abortion” seven years after the Court overruled such a ban in Stenberg v. Carhart.

Overall Assessment

The Eastern District of California has consistently been one of the most overworked courts in the country, and one desperately in need of new judges. As such, Calabretta’s nomination is likely welcome news to the court’s judges. Furthermore, Calabretta brings to the job both lawyerly and judicial experience and would likely be deemed to be well qualified for the bench.

However, Calabretta’s biggest enemy in his confirmation this Congress is time. As he is on the agenda for a Judiciary hearing this week, he should be able to be confirmed before the end of the year. If he is not, his fate depends on the composition of the new Senate.

Judge Rita Lin – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Rita Lin would, if confirmed, be the first Chinese American woman on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Background

Lin got her B.A. from Harvard University in 2000 and her J.D. from the Harvard Law School in 2003. After graduating, Lin clerked for Judge Sandra Lynch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and then joined the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster. In 2014, she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Lin to the San Francisco County Superior Court, where she has served since.

History of the Seat

Lin has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to a seat vacated on May 17, 2022, by Judge Edward Chen.

Legal Experience

Lin started her legal career at the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster. Among the matters she handled at the firm, Lin represented Karen Golinski in a suit to seek spousal benefits for her wife. See Pam Spaulding, Lambda Legal Sues U.S. OPM on Behalf of Fed Lesbian Employee Whose Wife Was Denied Insurance, Pam’s House Blend, Jan. 20, 2010. The suit ended in Judge Jeffrey White ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, which was echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor. See Aaron Kase, Defense of Marriage Act Thrown Out By Supreme Court, Lawyers.com, June 26, 2013.

From 2014 to 2018, Lin worked as a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of California. In this position, Lin prosecuted Melinda Van Horne for environmental damage to federal lands from her cultivation of marijuana, ending with Van Horne pleading guilty and receiving a 12 month prison sentence. See Whitehorn Woman Sentenced to 12 Months Imprisonment for Environmental Damage from Marijuana Grow on National Conservation Land, States News Service, Aug. 3, 2016.

Jurisprudence

Since 2018, Lin has served as a judge on the San Francisco County Superior Court. In this role, Lin presides over trial court matters in criminal, civil, family, and other state law matters. Lin also presides over preliminary hearings that see if sufficient evidence exists to proceed on felony charges. See, e.g., Adam Ruthenbeck, Deterring Theft By Encouraging It, The People’s Vanguard of Davis, Oct. 7, 2019 (noting that Judge Lin found probable cause for bike theft charges).

Statements and Writings

Lin has sometimes made media statements regarding the law and policy. For example, as an undergraduate student, she supported a protest against clothing company Guess? due to the conditions the clothes were manufactured in. See Breezy Tollinger, Harvard Students Protest Labor Conditions at Guess?, University Wire, Sept. 25, 1998.

Overall Assessment

With experience on both the civil and criminal side, as well as time on the bench, Lin would, despite her youth, be deemed qualified for a federal judicial appointment. Lin may draw opposition based on her pro bono representations with Lambda Legal but, if she gets a hearing this Congress, Lin should be confirmed by the end of the year.

Araceli Martinez-Olguin – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Civil rights attorney Araceli Martinez-Olguin is the first non-judge that Biden has tapped for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Background

Born in 1977 in Mexico City, Mexico, Martinez-Olguin attended Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley Law School. After graduating, Martinez-Olguin spent two years clerking for Judge David Briones on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. She then joined the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), working in the Women’s Rights Project based in New York City.

Martinez-Olguin then moved to San Francisco to become a staff attorney at Legal Aid at Work. After three years there, Martinez-Olguin returned to New York to work at the ACLU, this time with the Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Martinez-Olguin then spent a year apiece at the Office of Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education and as managing director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto before joining the National Immigration Law Center, where she works as Supervising Attorney.

History of the Seat

Martinez-Olguin has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to a seat vacated on February 1, 2021, by Judge Jeffrey White.

In March 2021, Martinez-Olguin applied and interviewed for a federal judgeship with selection committees set up by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla. In January 2022, Martinez-Olguin interviewed with the White House and was selected as a nominee in August 2022. Martinez-Olguin was nominated on August 1, 2022.

Legal Experience

While Martinez-Olguin has spent her career among many different organizations, her role in all of them has been fairly consistent, as a civil rights lawyer.

Martinez-Olguin started her career working on women’s rights. Notably, she represented Jessica Lenahan, who sued in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, noting that the failure of law enforcement to enforce a domestic violence protective order against her abusive husband (who ended up abducting and murdering her daughters) violated her human rights. See Joy Resmovits, Columbia U. Law School Defends Human Rights, University Wire, Mar. 26, 2008. Subsequently, at the Legal Aid Society, Martinez-Olguin worked on employment law, representing Hani Khan, who sued Abercrombie & Fitch, alleging that she was not hired because she wore a hijab. See Jason Dearen, Muslim Woman Sues Abercrombie & Fitch, Says Company Fired Her For Refusing to Remove Headscarf; Muslim Woman Sued Abercrombie & Fitch Over Hijab, Canadian Press, June 27, 2011.

As her career moved on, Martinez-Olguin primarily worked on immigrants’ rights. Notably, she represented a class of Latino workers at a meatpacking plant who alleged that federal agents targeted them during a 2018 raid of the plant. See Jennifer Doherty, Too Late to Add IRS Agents to ICE Raid Suit, Feds Say, Law360, Dec. 1, 2021. The suit is ongoing.

Writings and Statements

In her role as an attorney, Martinez-Olguin has frequently given media statements in relation to her legal activities. See, e.g., Joy Resmovits, Columbia U. Law School Defends Human Rights, University Wire, Mar. 26, 2008 (quoting Araceli Martinez-Olguin) (“Jessica Lenahan was forced to turn to an international body because the U.S. justice system failed to provide her with even a bare modicum of justice.”). On one occasion, Martinez-Olguin described school districts who required teachers with accents to undergo speech improvements as “discrimination.” See Marc Lacey, In Arizona, Complaints that an Accent Can Hinder a Teacher’s Career, N.Y. Times, sept. 25, 2011.

As a law student, Martinez-Olguin described the distinction between law and policy in judicial rulings, noting:

“…I was later also shocked by the way the judges distanced themselves from the ability to influence public policy. At the time, the line the judges drew between themselves and Congress made sense to me. After all, I’d spent the entire first semester learning about the formalistic way in which the law is created. Yet more time in law school and reflection about the trip has made me skeptical about questions of policy and politics not entering the mix when judges rule.” See Araceli Martinez-Olguin, Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence on the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation: Student Reflections on Grutter v. Bollinger: Redefining Moment, 13 La Raza L.J. 109 (Spring 2002).

Overall Assessment

Unlike the other sitting judges that California senators have recommended for the federal bench, Martinez-Olguin brings a different perspective as a nominee. That being said, her nomination is nonetheless likely to be extremely controversial. Martinez-Olguin will draw opposition not only due to her work as a civil rights attorney but because, as a law student, she herself advocated for blurring the distinction between law and policy, allowing opponents to argue that she sees herself as an advocate, even when she is on the bench.

That being said, if Democrats remain united, they should be able to discharge Martinez-Olguin and confirm her by the end of the year.

Julia Kobick – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Julia Kobick, who currently works with the Massachusetts Solicitor General’s Office, brings a star-studded resume to her appointment to the federal bench.

Background

Kobick received a B.A. from Harvard University in 2005, and then obtained a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2010.

After graduation, Kobick clerked for Judge Dennis Saylor on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, for Judge Michael Chagares on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and then for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kobick subsequently joined the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, serving as Deputy Attorney General until 2021, when she became Deputy State Solicitor for the state.

History of the Seat

Kobick has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts opened by Judge William Young’s move to senior status on July 1, 2021.

Legal Career

After her clerkships, Kobick has spent her entire legal career with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, serving both as deputy attorney general and the deputy state solicitor. Early in her time with the office, Kobick defended a statute authorizing involuntary commitment orders for those with serious alcoholism and substance abuse disorders. See, In the Matter of G.P., 40 N.E.3d 989 (Mass. 2015).

Among the notable matters she handled there, Kobick sued the Trump Administration for its rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. See AG Healey Sues the Trump Administration for Roll Back of Contraceptive Coverage Mandate, States News Service, Oct. 6, 2017. Kobick was also part of the legal team defending Massachusetts’ “Right to Repair” law, which mandates access to car diagnostic and repair systems. See Chris Vilani, ‘Irritated’ Judge Nearing Verdict on Mass. Car Data Law, Law360, Feb. 2, 2022. Kobick also defended Massachusetts’ mask mandate during the pandemic. See Brian Dowling, End of Mask Order Moots Legal Challenge, Mass. Justices Say, Law360, May 2, 2022.

Writings and Statements

Kobick has authored a number of articles discussing and analyzing the law. As a law student, Kobick discussed a finding of an “intent to discriminate” in challenging facially neutral laws under the Equal Protection Clause. See Julia Kobick, Discriminatory Intent Reconsidered: Folk Concepts of Intentionality and Equal Protection Jurisprudence, 45 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 517 (Summer 2010). In the paper, Kobick suggests broadening the analysis of intentionality to include considerations of the foreseeability that facially neutral laws might cause harm to particular groups. See id. at 562.

Kobick also addressed the intentionality of actions and the moral implications thereof in another article she co-authored. See Julia Kobick and Joshua Knobe, Symposium: Is Morality Universal, and Should the Law Care?: Interpreting Intent: How Research on Folk Judgments of Intentionality Can Inform Statutory Analysis, 75 Brooklyn L. Rev. 409 (Winter 2009). In this piece, Kobick discussed intentionality in the context of environmental liability when an actor does not intend the negative impacts of their actions but is aware that such impacts are likely to occur. See id. at 412. In the context of a recent Supreme Court decision, Kobick suggests incorporating folk understandings of morality in determining intentionality. Id. at 431.

Kobick also authored a paper as a law student recommending that the Food and Drug Administration use “negotiated rulemaking,” a form of rulemaking that involves early buy-in from stakeholders (as opposed to notice-and-comment rulemaking, which has stakeholders submit comments after a proposed rule has already been drafted) to formulate rules and regulations. See Julia Kobick, Negotiated Rulemaking: The Next Step in Regulatory Innovation at the Food and Drug Administration?, 65 Food Drug L.J. 425 (2010).

Political Activity

Kobick’s campaign donations include contributions to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttegieg and to Healey.

Overall Assessment

Having clerked for Justice Ginsburg and with a long record of advocacy on behalf of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, Kobick presents a mirror image to the youthful Clarence Thomas clerks that President Trump frequently nominated to the federal bench. If Kobick is able to squeeze through the Senate calendar, she will likely be strongly considered for elevation to the First Circuit or beyond.