Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar Confirmed to the California Supreme Court

Mariano-Florentino Cuellar
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar (Photo by Rod Searcey)

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, appears set to become a justice on California’s Supreme Court. Cuéllar was nominated to the court by Governor Jerry Brown in July and the nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments in August. The nomination is expected to be approved by California voters in the November election, when his name will appear unopposed on the ballot for the position. If elected, he will start a 12-year term in January 2015, replacing Justice Marvin R. Baxter and becoming the first Latino immigrant on the California Supreme Court.

Cuéllar was widely supported in the nomination and received the highest possible rating from the state bar commission that evaluated him prior to the hearing. Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former Stanford Law dean, testified on his behalf during the hearing, telling the commission that “Tino’s experience is quite astonishingly broad.” 

Cuéllar’s career combines scholarship and public service, with turns in the academy and government. He joined the Stanford Law faculty in 2001, bringing expertise in administrative, criminal, and international law. He has served as co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He has worked in two presidential administrations and during 2009-2010 served as special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy at the White House. Among other issues, Cuéllar worked on enhancing food safety standards, public health agencies, law enforcement and sentencing policy, repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, regulatory transparency, immigrant integration, and the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Earlier, he co-chaired the Obama-Biden Transition’s Immigration Policy Working Group. During the second term of the Clinton administration, he worked at the Department of the Treasury as senior advisor to the under secretary for enforcement, where he focused on countering financial crime, border coordination, and anti-corruption measures.

In July 2010, President Obama appointed him to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent agency charged with improving the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs. From 2011 to early 2013, he co-chaired the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. In 2012, Cuéllar published Governing Security: The Hidden Origins of American Security Agencies. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.