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Biden nominates three judges to federal courts in California

President Biden on Friday announced three more nominees to serve on federal courts in California, including the first out gay judge, the first Chinese American woman and the second Latina to serve on their respective courts.

If confirmed, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Dainel Calabretta would be the first openly gay judge to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, according to a White House press release. Calabretta was among eight nominees announced by Biden to serve on federal courts and each must be approved by the U.S. Senate, needing 51 votes to be confirmed.

Biden also nominated Judge Rita Lin and attorney Araceli Martinez-Olguin for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. If confirmed, Lin will be the second Asian American Pacific Islander woman and the first Chinese American woman to serve on the court. Martinez-Olguin would be the second Latina.

The latest batch of nominees represents the 24th time Biden has nominated people for federal judicial positions, bringing the total of federal nominees to 132.

Calabretta became the first openly gay man appointed to the Sacramento County Superior Court in 2019. Previously, Calabretta served as former Gov. Jerry Brown’s deputy legal affairs secretary beginning in 2013. He was also a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice from 2008-13.

Calabretta was an associate at Munger Tolles in Los Angeles from 2005-08 and clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens at the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the White House press release. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 2003.

Lin has been a judge on the Superior Court of San Francisco County since 2018 and was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California from 2014-18, according to the White House. She was a partner at Morrison and Forester LLP and a law clerk for Judge Sandra Lynch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Martinez-Olguin has been an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center since 2018 and previously worked at the Immigrants’ Rights Project at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. She was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Aid at Work’s National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Program.

The Biden White House noted its streak of diverse nominees, saying that the choices “ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.”

Biden also nominated Julie Rikelman, an abortion rights lawyer who most recently represented the Mississippi clinic at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that established a federal right to abortion. Rikelman was nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court for the First Circuit and serves as the U.S. Litigation Director for the Center for Reproductive rights. She was previously vice president of litigation at NBC Universal, senior associate at Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP and an associate at Feldman & Orlansky.


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