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TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At Senate Judiciary Committee Introducing Myrna Pérez, His Recommendation To The Second Circuit Court Of Appeals

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered remarks at the Senate Judiciary Committee introducing Myrna Pérez, his recommendation to be a Judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

It is my honor, my true honor, to introduce a nominee to the committee for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York: Myrna Pérez, an experienced litigator and one of the foremost election lawyers in the country, whom I was so, so proud to recommend to President Biden.

Myrna Pérez’s life is a quintessentially American story. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Myrna grew up in San Antonio, not quite Brooklyn, where her dad served in the Air Force and her mom worked as a waitress and then at the post office. As she will tell you, her upbringing was steeped in the immigrant experience of many first-generation Americans. There was the constant struggle against racial, social, and cultural barriers as the Pérez family found its place in America.

In fact, when Myrna was a kid, her aunt would take her to the polls on Election Day. Even in her early years, she saw firsthand how cultural differences and byzantine rules made it immensely difficult for Americans like her to engage in the political process—foreshadowing a career dedicated to the defense of voting rights and equal representation for all Americans.

And it was no mistake that she chose the legal profession as the means to achieve that noble goal. Myrna’s family will tell you the story of how, once, as a kid, she protested that her cousin tried to keep a fish he caught that was technically below the legal size for catch-and-keep.

Do you remember what kind of fish it was? [Crosstalk].

A trout. We have those in New York, too.

It was the innate appreciation for the rule of law that propelled Myrna through Yale, Harvard, and eventually Columbia Law School—the first in her family to graduate from college. I hear these stories and it gives me such faith in America, but such a strong desire to create greater and more equal justice in this country. We have so much potential, we have such a wonderful country. We just have to live up to it. And with a nomination like this, we are. After two clerkships on the federal bench, Myrna worked as a Civil Rights Fellow in private practice before joining the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, of course named after the great Justice Brennan.

It was at the Brennan Center that Myrna established a reputation as one of the top voting rights and election lawyers in the country. For the last fifteen years, she has been involved in election-related litigation: everything from voter roll purges, discriminatory voter-ID laws, the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people, and protecting the ballot from unlawful rejection.

My colleagues, the federal bench has long been occupied by former prosecutors and corporate lawyers. While many of these people—many of whom I proudly recommended—have served admirably, it’s past time that the federal bench reflect more accurately the true depth and breadth and talent that the legal profession has to offer.

It is about time that civil rights attorneys, federal defenders, and voting rights experts like Myrna Pérez join the ranks. Especially now, when our democracy in many ways is in peril, it is crucial that we elevate someone like Ms. Pérez to the bench—someone we can trust to faithfully and equally apply the law to preserve our great democracy.

But it’s not only about her experience as a voting rights litigator. After all, she’s going to hear all kinds of cases on the Second Circuit. What makes Ms. Pérez so qualified for this job is not merely her experience, but her legal excellence.

Just listen to what a few of her colleagues had to say about her:

“Brilliant,” one fellow attorney wrote, quite succinctly.

“A force of nature,” another said.

Another colleague rated her legal skills as simply “off the charts.”

I would add one additional note to these well-deserved praises: Ms. Pérez will serve as the first Latina to sit on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals since then-judge—now-Justice—Sonia Sotomayor, whom I had the great honor of recommending to President Obama for a seat on the highest court.

And let me just say when I met Ms. Pérez, she just knocked my socks off. Yes, she was brilliant. Amazing. Yes, she had real compassion and depth of experience. And she had a scintillating personality that I’m sure will help her persuade fellow members of the Second Circuit to the righteousness of the causes that she will follow.

So, I can think of no one, no one more fitting to carry on Justice Sotomayor’s legacy on the Second Circuit than Myrna Pérez. She’s amazing, and I’m so proud to nominate her. She carries my highest, highest, highest recommendation.