07/23/2014 07:09 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2014

Latino Immigrant Reaches Major Milestone In California


A legal expert who once crossed the U.S. border to get to school every day is set to be the newest addition to the California Supreme Court, where he will be the first Latino immigrant justice.

Mariano-Florentino "Tino" Cuéllar, a Stanford University law professor and former Obama administration special assistant, was nominated for the post Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Cuéllar faces confirmation by a three-member commission, including Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Attorney General Kamala Harris.

"Tino Cuéllar is a renowned scholar who has served two presidents and made significant contributions to both political science and the law," Brown said in a press release. "His vast knowledge and even temperament will -- without question -- add further luster to our highest court."

Cuéllar, who was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and walked across the border to school every day in Brownsville, Texas, until moving to California's Imperial Valley with his family at 14, was praised by members of the state Latino Legislative Caucus.

"Mr. Cuéllar is living proof that the American Dream is alive, well, and still thriving," state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) said in a statement. "From modest beginnings, Mr. Cuéllar has demonstrated a mastery of the law and a commitment to impartial justice."

Cuéllar will succeed the court's most conservative justice, Marvin Baxter, disrupting Republican control over the court they've held since 1987, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.

This is the second time Brown has nominated a law professor with no judicial experience to the California Supreme Court. Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen said such nominees will excel at "identifying areas that are ripe for change," the Los Angeles Times reported.



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