A Latino judge who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and now sits on a federal appellate court is among about half a dozen people judicial experts say President Barack Obama may choose from to succeed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79.
Adalberto J. Jordan, who is 54 and came to the United States from Cuba at the age of 6, serves on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Jordan would be the second Hispanic and first Cuban-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Bill Clinton appointed Jordan, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law, to the Federal District Court in 1999 and Obama promoted him to the appeals court 2012, according to the New York Times, which listed Jordan as one of six possible contenders for the court.
Republican presidential candidates and congressional leaders have vowed to block any nominee Obama puts forth to succeed Scalia, the court’s most vocal conservative.
Jordan would be no stranger to nomination fights.
He waited four months for Senate approval of his confirmation, which was held up by partisan bickering between the Obama administration and Republicans in the Senate. Senate Republicans filibustered his nomination, which was endorsed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, over objections they had to several Obama appointments that occurred during a legislative recess.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, released a statement in 2012 assailing his colleagues for holding up Adalberto’s confirmation.
“Judge Adalberto Jordan is the kind of nominee who in the past would have been confirmed without delay, rather than wait four months for Senators to consent to proceed on his nomination,” Leahy wrote. “Judge Adalberto Jordan is precisely the type of qualified, consensus nominee the Senate should be confirming without delay…Senator Rubio praised his knowledge of the law, his experience, and his participation in his community, stating that he looks forward to [Judge Jordan’s] appointment.”
Various judicial watch web sites depict Jordan as liberal-leaning.
Last year, Jordan ruled that Florida’s healthcare system for poor and disabled children violated federal laws. Healthcare providers had long fought for the state to pay enough to cover proper treatment to low-income and disabled children.
In a ruling that spanned 153 pages, Jordan accused lawmakers of setting the state’s Medicaid budget artificially low, driving many healthcare providers who catered to children not to participate in the program.
“This is a great day for the children in this state,” said Dr. Louis B. St. Petery, a Tallahassee pediatrician who was at the forefront of taking the state to court, to reporters. “This action was taken because we found that children weren’t being treated properly if they were on Medicaid."
“Our position as pediatricians,” Petery said, “is that children do not choose their parents. They don’t have a choice to be born into a rich family or a poor family.”
In 2014, Jordan was part of a three-judge panel that rejected a request by Florida’s secretaries of health and management services and a county clerk to extend a hold on same-sex marriages – basically allowing gay marriage to move forward in Florida.
A judge previously had ruled that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but stayed the ruling to give the officials a chance to file their appeal.
“It means that relief is finally in sight for the same-sex married couples suffering under Florida’s refusal to recognize their legal unions,” SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima said in a statement to the media.
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