Ana de Alba is on the judicial fast track to San Francisco.
On Friday, President Joe Biden nominated de Alba, 42, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. It was only in June 2022 that de Alba was confirmed as a federal judge in the Fresno-based Eastern District. Before that, de Alba served as a Fresno County Superior Court judge from 2018-2022.
The Ninth Circuit hears federal appeals from nine western states and territories. It is the intermediary court between the district level and the U.S. Supreme Court. The circuit has 29 active judges and 23 more on senior status.
The position pays a base salary of $236,900. De Alba would replace Paul Watford on the Ninth Circuit. He announced his resignation effective May 31 to return to private practice.
The process to confirm de Alba includes a Senate Judiciary committee hearing; a committee vote; the a floor vote from the full Senate. She would be the seventh Biden nominee to the Ninth Circuit.
Her office referred media inquiries to the White House. Other than a news release about the nomination, the Biden Administration has not commented on de Alba’s nomination.
Senators Cheer Nomination
California’s U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, released a joint statement supporting de Alba.
“We applaud President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ana de Alba to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We are proud of her service on the bench for the Eastern District of California, where she has more than proven herself to be a qualified jurist. Her extensive legal experience and commitment to public service will be an asset on the Ninth Circuit and we urge our colleagues to swiftly approve her nomination,” the senators said.
De Alba won her federal seat with a bipartisan 53-45 vote on the Senate floor in 2022, which included three Republicans affirming her nomination. Democrats now control a larger share of the Senate after the 2022 election.
“I spent my childhood toiling alongside my parents and brothers in the fields of California’s Central Valley. My parents immigrated to the United States (from Mexico), bringing with them entrenched values of honesty, humility, hard work, and determination to ensure that their children received a good education,” de Alba told the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
Born in Merced and raised in South Dos Palos, de Alba worked her way through UC Berkeley to earn a law degree and returned to the Central Valley to practice law. She worked at the private law firm Lang, Richert & Patch after graduating in 2007; she became a partner in 2013.
Law Professor: de Alba on Fast Track
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor analyzing the federal judiciary, says de Alba is on the fast track for the Ninth Circuit. He says it is “unusual but not rare” for a nominee to have less than a year’s experience on the federal bench.
“She is an exceptional nominee. She had a strong hearing and bipartisan vote for the district. All presidents use elevation, because the Senate has already confirmed the person once and she has a record senators can analyze,” Tobias told GV Wire by email.
Tobias says that five years overall as a judge is enough experience, especially in busy courtrooms.
“She also brings ethnic and gender diversity and a great life story,” Tobias said.