President Joe Biden intends to nominate Regina M. Rodriguez to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for Colorado in his first announcement of judicial nominees since his inauguration.
Rodriguez is a former federal prosecutor and currently works for the global law firm WilmerHale, where she specializes in corporate regulatory compliance. Rodriguez was the sole recommended candidate to the White House from U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.
"Regina is an exceptionally qualified nominee, and her long track record of community service and pro-bono work demonstrates a deeply-held commitment to Colorado’s children, working families and underserved communities," the senators said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rodriguez's resume also includes work at the law firms of Hogan Lovells US LLP and Faegre & Benson LLP, and a law degree from the University of Colorado. She was an Assistant U.S. Attorney between 1995 and 2002, and eventually led the office's civil division. Rodriguez also volunteers on the commission that nominates judges to the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court, as a Democrat representing the Sixth Congressional District.
The Obama administration originally nominated her to the U.S. District Court in 2016, but the Republican-controlled Senate never acted on her nomination.
She was one of 11 individuals the White House announced it would nominate on Tuesday to fill three appellate court vacancies, seven trial court vacancies and one vacancy on the District of Columbia's superior court.
“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession," Biden said in a statement. "Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”
If the U.S. Senate confirms her, Rodriguez would fill a seat on the seven-member trial court in Colorado that has been open since March 2019. A second district court judge has announced his intent to step down from full-time duty in September, and Bennet and Hickenlooper have already established a committee to screen applicants.
Their recommendation of Rodriguez initially drew criticism from progressive groups, who questioned why the senators had not adhered to guidance from the incoming Biden administration expressing a desire to put more public defenders and civil rights attorneys on the bench.
There are 72 current vacancies on federal courts throughout the United States, and an additional 28 judges have announced their intent to vacate their seats. During the Trump administration, approximately 220 judges were confirmed.
The policymaking organization for the federal court system has designated Colorado as a "judicial emergency," given the high number of court filings per judge. To address the problem, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse introduced legislation in the current Congress to expand Colorado's trial court to 10 members.