Senate Approves Trump’s Pick for California Federal Judge

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Senators voted to confirm Fernando Lazaro Aenlle-Rocha for a seat on the Central District of California bench Sunday following an agreement on a Covid-19 relief bill.

Aenlle-Rocha worked for the federal government from 1987 until 1999, starting in Los Angeles County as a deputy district attorney. He spent about four years with the Southern District of Florida as an assistant U.S. attorney before moving to the Central District of California in the same position.

From there, Aenlle-Rocha dove into private practice, working as an associate with Stephan, Oringher, Richman and Theodora — a Los Angeles firm focused on a wide variety of litigation from antitrust suits to sports and entertainment representation. He was a partner with White and Case before being seated on the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2017.

Unlike the majority of outgoing President Donald Trump’s pick for the federal judiciary, Aenlle-Rocha is not a member recommended by the Federalist Society — a conservative legal organization headed by Leonard Leo.

In a Senate questionnaire in response to questions from Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, Aenlle-Rocha says he hasn’t talked with anyone from the organization about his possible federal court nomination. Nor has anyone in the group discussed his views on administrative law, Aenlle-Rocha wrote.

Two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings — Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges — were correctly decided and settled law, Aenlle-Rocha wrote. The California judge also wrote he would faithfully apply Supreme Court precedent when interpreting legislative history of laws and apply judicial restraint.

“I understand judicial restraint to mean that a judge will render a decision and tailor a remedy, if appropriate, based on the parties, facts, and law before the court,” Aenlle-Rocha wrote.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a likely weekend vote on another judge: Thompson Michael Dietz. If confirmed, Dietz will serve on the United States Court of Federal Claims. The position is a 15-year appointment.

Dietz currently is an associate counsel at a New Jersey tax firm, CohnReznick. He spent the majority of his career in Baltimore, where he worked pro bono at the Community Law Center.

In a Senate questionnaire, fielding questions from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, Dietz denies having any involvement with the Federalist Society.

“I believe that an independent federal judiciary is an essential component of our society and system of government,” Dietz wrote.

In the same questionnaire, Dietz answers similarly to Aenlle-Rocha on questions of settled Supreme Court law: Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges were settled law.

“My 15 years of legal experience in federal government contracts qualifies me to serve on the Court of Federal Claims,” Dietz wrote.

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