Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama nominated two Latino judges from Philadelphia to fill the seats for the district court in Pennsylvania.
Obama nominated Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro and Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, along with Judge Jeffrey L. Schmeh, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Quiñones Alejandro would become the first gay Hispanic woman to serve on the federal bench, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Formerly, Quiñones Alejandro was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas when she was appointed in 1991. She was previously a lawyer in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and an attorney adviser for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Restrepo has been a magistrate judge in the Eastern District since 2006. As the former president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania, Restrepo has long been outspoken about greater ethnic diversity on the bench. He told the Pocono Report in 2003, “If all they see day after day is people on the bench who can’t identify with their language or color, it is not healthy.”
If confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate, the judges would fill three of six vacancies on the 22-judge court.
“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” said President Obama. “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”