Sure, D.C. might not have a system in place for picking its federal judges yet, but that hasn’t stopped the endorsement race from getting underway.
The Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia has officially thrown its weight behind Judge Vanessa Ruiz of the D.C. Court of Appeals as a candidate for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Ruiz, who was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has served in her current spot on the bench since 1994, when President Bill Clinton made her the first Hispanic judge to sit on D.C.’s highest local court.
“She’s someone who’s really sort of a leader in D.C. and nationally,” says Brigida Benitez, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and Hispanic Bar Association board member.
Benitez says the association has sent a letter backing Ruiz to both the White House and Justice Department, and that she expects other organizations will line up to support the judge.
If nominated and confirmed, Ruiz would be the first Hispanic judge to sit on D.C. Circuit. President George W. Bush nominated Miguel Estrada in 2001, but the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner withdrew his nomination after it was held up in a partisan confirmation battle.
After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1975, Ruiz began her career as an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. After a period as senior counsel at Sears World Trade, she co-founded Sloan, Lehner & Ruiz. In 1991, she became Washington’s Corporation Counsel (now called the D.C. Attorney General).
Ruiz is currently active in a variety of Hispanic and women’s legal organizations. She is the president of the National Association of Women Judges, and this year was one of five honorees presented with the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.
Ruiz was not available for comment.
Read her official bio here.