NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Washington gets a new U.S. federal judge: David Estudillo wins Senate confirmation

David Estudil­lo, the Sun­ny­side-born son of Mex­i­can immi­grants, was con­firmed by the U.S. Sen­ate on Tues­day as a Unit­ed States Dis­trict Judge for the West­ern Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton. Estudil­lo has worked as a Grant Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judge, appoint­ed in 2015 by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee as the first Lati­no to serve as a judge on any court in East­ern Washington.

“Judge Estudil­lo is a great exam­ple of the suc­cess­es and con­tri­bu­tions that many immi­grant fam­i­lies make to our great nation,” Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, said in a Sen­ate floor speech.

Cantwell and Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, put for­ward Estudillo’s name and he was nom­i­nat­ed to the fed­er­al bench in April by Pres­i­dent Biden.

A sec­ond West­ern Dis­trict nom­i­na­tion, of Seat­tle lawyer Tana Lin, is pend­ing in the Sen­ate with con­fir­ma­tion likely.

The state’s sen­a­tors have moved to give much-need­ed help to the fed­er­al bench in Seat­tle and Taco­ma, which has just two active U.S. Dis­trict Court judges.

Sev­en judges with senior sta­tus, their appoint­ments dat­ing to the Carter and Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tions, con­tin­ue to fill heavy caseloads.

Judge Estudil­lo has enjoyed wide, bipar­ti­san sup­port in con­ser­v­a­tive Grant Coun­ty, and cur­rent­ly heads the Wash­ing­ton State Supe­ri­or Court Judges Assocation.

Still, the Sen­ate vote to con­firm him was 54–41, with 41 of 50 Repub­li­cans in the U.S. Sen­ate vot­ing against confirmation.

The “no” votes includ­ed Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell and even Sen. Rob Port­man, R‑Ohio, often tout­ed in the press as one of the upper chamber’s most “rea­son­able” and col­le­gial Repub­li­cans. The “yea” Repub­li­can votes includ­ed Sen­a­tor John Cornyn, R‑Texas, a mem­ber of GOP lead­er­ship, Sen­a­tor Susan Collins, R‑Maine, and Iowa’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Chuck Grass­ley and Joni Ernst. Ernst ini­tial­ly vot­ed No but switched her vote with Grass­ley stand­ing beside her.

Judge Estudil­lo built a prac­tice as an immi­gra­tion lawyer before being named to the supe­ri­or court bench by Gov­er­nor Inslee.

“He rep­re­sent­ed clients in tough removal pro­ceed­ings, suc­cess­ful­ly pre­sent­ing and try­ing claims for asy­lum, can­cel­la­tion of removal and oth­er forms of relief from depor­ta­tion,” Mur­ray said in a Sen­ate speech sup­port­ing the nomination.

“He also con­sis­tent­ly pro­vid­ed pro bono ser­vices at immi­gra­tion legal clin­ics to help immi­grants apply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship and often pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion in Span­ish about immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy and pro­ce­dure all around the community.”

After his appoint­ment by Inslee, Judge Estudil­lo was twice reelect­ed to his Supe­ri­or Court seat, the sec­ond time unopposed.

After Don­ald Trump sent a parade of white con­ser­v­a­tives to the fed­er­al bench vet­ted by the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, Pres­i­dent Biden pledged to diver­si­ty the make­up of the U.S. Dis­trict and Appel­late Courts. He has also pledged to put an African Amer­i­can woman on the U.S. Supreme Court when there is a vacancy.

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