HNBA and Leaders Meet with White House Staff to Discuss Judicial Vacancy Crisis
May 7, 2012 | Washington, DC – On Monday, White House staff met with the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and leaders from twenty-six other states about the judicial vacancy crisis. HNBA was represented by the Hon. Celeste I. Villarreal, Vice President-External Affairs, and Associate Judge from Austin Texas. HNBA was the lone voice for the Latino community participating in the White House briefing.
Session participants were addressed by Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General; Kathy Ruemmler, Assistant to the President and White House Counsel; Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; Eric Schultz, Associate Communications Director; Ed Pagano, Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, Senate Liasion; and Christopher Kant, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Counsel.
Following the general session, a select few were invited to meet privately with President Obama to discuss the impact the empty judicial seats are having on our communities. Judge Villarreal highlighted the adverse impact on the lives of Latinos, all constituencies, and business interests when cases must wait up to two years because of a backlog of cases and a shortage of judges, and called for expediency in filling the open seats. Additionally, HNBA offered to assist the White House in addressing the unprecedented judicial vacancy crisis.
It is critical that access to the courts and the administration of justice be a top priority. HNBA is working in partnership with the White House as a resource to provide nominees for consideration, assist in the vetting process and urging the Senate to bring forth nominees for an up or down vote.