SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— California Governor Jerry Brown has nominated a Stanford Law School professor and former advisor to President Obama on Immigration policy to the State Supreme Court.

A Mexican immigrant, 41-year-old Mariano Florentino-Cuellar, was tapped by the governor to replace Justice Marvin Baxter, one of the court’s most conservative members. Although he has no judicial experience or record to evaluate, many say his nomination signals a new direction for the high court.

St. Mary’s Political Science Professor Dr. Steven Woolpert says the appointment clearly signals that change is coming.

“It’s a shift from a Republican appointee to a Democrat appointee, which is likely to change the voting behavior of the court,” he said.

Governor Brown had been under pressure to appoint a Latino to the court, since there isn’t one now, and Cuellar’s name has been prominently mentioned.

“He has a compelling story,” Woolpert said. “He was born in Mexico, walked across the border every day to attend school in Brownsville, Texas, and then moved to the Imperial Valley when he was 14. He went on to graduate from Harvard, Yale and Stanford.”

The professor’s nomination will now be reviewed by the bar association and the state commission on judicial appointments with state voters weighing in, come November.

Brown still has a second vacancy to fill yet for another opportunity to reshape the high court in his own political image.


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