Diane Humetewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, is the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge. Photo: Arizona State University
Law | Opinion

Carl Tobias: Nominate Diane Humetewa for seat on appeals court

Diane Humetewa, a citizen of the Hopi Tribe, already made history as the first Native woman to serve on the federal bench. Law professor Carl Tobias makes the case for President Donald Trump to nominate Humetewa for a spot on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears a significant number of cases affecting tribes in Arizona, California, Washington and other western states:
Because she is a highly qualified, mainstream judge and the court — which had four vacancies on January 1, 2017 — needs all of its jurists, the President should promptly nominate Judge Humetewa.

In September 2013, President Barack Obama named Humetewa to the District of Arizona. When tapping the nominee, he effusively praised her integrity and “unwavering commitment to justice.” Obama remarked that Humetewa, when nominated, was an upper-echelon campus official for Arizona State University. Between 2009 and 2011, she practiced with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, in the Phoenix office of the well-respected Cleveland law firm. The prior thirteen years, Humetewa served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, concluding with promotion to U.S. Attorney, the chief federal law enforcement official. From 2002 until 2007, she was a Hopi Tribe Appellate Court Judge. Between 1993 and 1996, Humetewa served as Deputy Counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, a position with longtime Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.

Across Humetewa’s exemplary career, she participated in the federal justice system and emphasized legal issues central to Native Americans, areas which have crucial relevance for Ninth Circuit courts. Arizona’s proximity to Mexico means that the courts resolve myriad disputes, which entail criminal law and immigration; vast tribal lands concomitantly yield appreciable numbers of federal cases. A substantial majority on the ABA judicial nominee evaluation committee rated Humetewa qualified; a minority ranked her well qualified.

Read More on the Story:
Carl Tobias: Nominating Judge Humetewa to the Ninth Circuit (LA Review of Books 6/2)