Hispanics seek seat on Supreme Court | VailDaily.com

Hispanics seek seat on Supreme Court

Lindsay Renick Mayer
AP file photoU.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks with reporters last month in Washington.

WASHINGTON As immigration, health care and other issues Hispanic Americans are concerned about come before the Supreme Court, some organizations want a Latino to fill the empty seat to give voice to the rapidly growing ethnic community. “There’s a sense among members of this organization that it’s about time,” said Larry Gonzalez, D.C. office director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “We need a Supreme Court that’s reflective of what’s going on in society. You’re seeing the evolution and maturity of the [Hispanic] community, and this is a natural next step.”The Hispanic population is the largest minority group in the United States, representing 13.4 percent of the population in 2002, according to the National Council of La Raza. The group deals with the issues that often come before the Supreme Court, including education, labor and affirmative action.

Fairness and impartiality, regardless of ethnicity, are the foremost requirements for Colorado U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, according to an aide. Still, Salazar, a Democrat, is no doubt mindful of the Hispanic community’s growing political clout. Just last month, he spoke at an event sponsored by the Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary, a national coalition of leaders and organizations urging the president to nominate a Hispanic justice who may grasp these issues. “The Latino community is not just willing to accept any Latino,” said Luis Burguillo, Jr., public policy advisor for the Aspira Association, a national Latino education organization. “It is important to have someone of strong character who abides by the laws of the United States, but also international treaties.”

President Bush is reportedly considering Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose grandparents were Mexican immigrants, for the position. Most organizations are waiting to decide whether he is the best candidate to represent Hispanics.”There’s a lot about Alberto’s record that we don’t know,” said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, a civil rights organization. “If he is a nominee, we’d expect the administration to be forthcoming about his qualifications.”Vicki Lovato, president of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, said the candidate’s qualifications are more important then his or her ethnic background, but that more consideration should be given to a Hispanic when all else is equal.

“It would bring attention to professionals that are very talented, qualified Hispanic judges and lawyers,” Lovato said. “It would provide a lot of opportunity for Hispanics in our community.” Vail, Colorado

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