obama makes first judicial pick for state
Lawmakers from both parties express support for nominee
President Barack Obama on Wednesday made his first nomination to the federal bench in Texas.
Judge Diana Saldaña, 39, has been nominated for U.S. district judge in the Southern District’s Laredo Division. If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Chief Judge George Kazen.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, chairman of the Texas Democratic delegation in Congress, said Saldaña, a U.S. magistrate judge in the same Laredo district, should be confirmed quickly. The two U.S. senators from Texas — Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, both Republicans — both announced their support for Saldaña on Wednesday.
“We set the highest standards for those we recommend to the President for nomination to the federal judiciary,” Hutchison said in a statement. “Ms. Saldaña has some of the finest qualities we expect in our judges.”
Cornyn said in an e-mail: “Ms. Saldaña’s proper judicial temperament and faithful adherence to the rule of law as a judge undoubtedly will serve her well in her new role on the bench. Her experience in prosecuting human trafficking and gang cases, some of the most violent and complex faced by prosecutors, has
made her among the toughest law enforcers in South Texas.”
Saldaña could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Originally from Carrizo Springs, Saldaña worked as a clerk early in her law career for Kazen, the man she would replace.
She served as a staff attorney for the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
She also worked at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, LLP in Houston before joining the U.S. attorney’s office, where she was in charge of the human trafficking and anti-gang task forces.
Since 2006, Saldaña has been a magistrate judge in the Laredo Division.
Doggett and other Democrats in Congress have been critical of the president in recent months for moving slowly with appointments for federal judges and other positions.
“I hope this announcement means we will see action very soon on the pending nominations in Texas,” Doggett said in a statement.
The slow nomination process is a problem across the country, but it’s a major issue in Texas because of the heavy caseload of drug and immigration cases, Doggett said in an interview in February.