Carlos Moreno is now being discussed as a possible replacement for Justice David Souter when he retires from the Supreme Court in June. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recommended him to the White House.
Moreno holds degrees from Yale and Stanford. He worked for the Los Angeles District Attorney and then joining the Mori & Ota law firm for seven years before being appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Municipal Court, Compton Judicial District, in 1986. He was appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1993 by Governor Pete Wilson, then chosen by President Bill Clinton to serve in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in 1998, receiving a rare unanimous confirmation from Congress. In 2001, Governor Gray Davis nominated him for the Supreme Court of California, where he still serves.
Moreno is a Democrat; the LA Times says he is "regarded as a centrist, is expected to be liberal on social issues and middle-of-the-road on criminal justice matters."
Moreno has is the son of a Mexican immigrant mother who arrived in the country with few skills and no resources after the death of his father. He grew up in a home where Spanish was the first language and where no family member had an education beyond high school. In a recent speech at UC Davis Law School, he told students, "I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could become one of seven judges on the highest court in the state. I want to emphasize to you the idea that no matter what your dreams may be, you can follow them."
Moreno has authored several notable California Supreme Court decisions, including a case that ruled that California law recognized parental relationships involving two women, and another in which the court determined that state anti-discrimination law barred businesses from treating registered domestic partners differently from married couples. He voted in favor of same-sex marriage when it came before the court in 2008.
Moreno once singled out Justice Souter as one of his favorite Supreme Court justices.
Souter has "always been non-ideological, perhaps to the chagrin" of conservative Republicans, and has brought fairness, balance and compassion to the high court, he said.