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For week ended March 12, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 10Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Hispanic LDS Judge Named To Court Of Appeals
(Native Utahn Finally Wins Judgeship OK)
Salt Lake Tribune 10Mar00 P2
By John Heilprin: Salt Lake Tribune

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Los Angeles LDS Judge was approved yesterday by the U.S. Senate on a 59-39 vote for appointment to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Paez, 52, said he was "pleased and honored" at the Senate's confirmation and thanked President Clinton for his support during the four years it took to overcome opposition, including that of LDS Church member, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch.

Paez' appointment to the appellate court bench was one of several held up for political reasons. Conservatives, including Hatch, objected to the political background of Paez, who describes himself as a liberal Democrat. They also objected to the Clinton administration's attempt to change the political makeup of the federal judiciary. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch plays a key role in the confirmation of judges, and can hold up confirmation indefinitely using the perogatives of his office. Under the U.S. Constitution, judicial appointments are made by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"It was not before a thorough and exhaustive review of Judge Paez's record that I have become convinced that questions regarding [his] record have, by and large, been answered," Hatch told the Senate, signaling his approval of Paez. Hatch had concerns about some of Paez' comments, including statements that two California ballot initiatives against affirmative action were "anti-civil rights." Hatch said that Paez had "earned a good deal of bipartisan support within his home state of California and his native state of Utah, and has given me his word that he will abide by the rule of law and not engage in judicial activism."

Hatch met Paez for the first time last November, and gradually came to support him. Paez is the first Mexican-American to serve as a federal judge in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, he moved to Southern California as a teenager. He graduated from BYU and the University of California at Berkeley's law school. He is reportedly an active member of the LDS Church and father of two.


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