Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar talks at Stanford Law School's first ACS Student Convention in March 2013. (Photo by Brendan Cohen)
Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar talks at Stanford Law School’s first ACS Student Convention in March 2013. (Photo by Brendan Cohen)

By Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated a Mexican-born Stanford law professor to the California Supreme Court.

Brown on Tuesday nominated 41-year-old Mariano-Florentino Cuellar to be an associate justice of the state’s highest court. If approved, the registered Democrat would fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Marvin Baxter, a reliably conservative member of the court, in January.

This is Brown’s second nomination since returning to the governor’s office. In 2011, he filled a vacancy by appointing UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court after Senate Republicans blocked his nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cuellar has taught administrative law, criminal law and international law, among other subjects. He also served as an adviser in the Obama White House.

Here’s a story from the San Francisco Chronicle. Cuellar, by the way, is married to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose, who presided over the high-profile Apple versus Samsung case.

The Sacramento Bee’s article on the nomination, which notes that the position pays $225,342 a year, says that it’s likely to lessen pressure on Brown to appoint a Latino justice:

Carlos Moreno, who was the court’s only Latino member, retired in 2011. The chairman and vice chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, respectively, issued a joint statement praising the decision.

“Indeed, he will bring a critical perspective, reliable judgment and even temperament to one of the most vital and challenging positions of service,” the lawmakers said. “Mr. Cuéllar’s nomination will also add to the diversity of the Supreme Court which should reflect the diversity of our state, including its vast Latino population.”

KQED’s Rachel Dornhelm discusses Cuellar’s nomination with Gerald Uelman, professor at Santa Clara Law School:

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