Irma Carrillo Ramirez Makes History as First Latina Judge to 5th Circuit Court

Mexican-American magistrate judge Irma Carillo Ramirez is confirmed as the first Latina in the U

irma carrillo ramirez

Photo:U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee via Wiki Commons

Latina judges in the U.S. are a small but mighty group that is slowly but steadily growing. Throughout history, only 161 Latino/a lifetime judges have served out of more than 3,900 total, that’s just 4 percent of lifetime judges. Recently, Mexican-American magistrate judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez was confirmed as the first Latina in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Reuters reported. The Dallas judge—appointed by President Joe Biden—was confirmed 80-12 by the United States Judiciary Committee this past Monday to the circuit court, known for their conservative rulings. The seat became open once Judge Gregg Acosta resigned from the 5th Circuit Court which is based in New Orleans and covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Ramirez’s confirmation not only makes her the first Latina in the 5th Circuit, but also the 5th active Democratic appointee on the conservative-majority court—12 judges having been nominated by Republican presidents. Including Ramirez, the Senate has confirmed President Biden’s 160 judicial nominees, most being women and people of color. 

Ramirez, 59, had initially been nominated by former President Barack Obama to a district court in 2016 but she was not confirmed by the Senate at that time. This time, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz both supported her nomination. Ramirez, who has been serving as the magistrate judge for the Northern District of Texas since 2002, was also an Assistant United States Attorney and comes to the role with 20 years of experience.

She received her bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M University in 1986 and her law degree from Southern Methodist University law school in Dallas in 1991. She worked at a law firm and then as a federal prosecutor before being appointed to her current position as a magistrate judge in 2002.

Born in Brownfield, Texas to Mexican parents, Ramirez’s upbringing is reminiscent of many generations of Mexican Americans in the United States. Ramirez’s father migrated to the United States as part of the Bracero program—a program from 1942 to 1964 that allowed Mexican citizens to take on temporary agricultural jobs. Working primarily in Texas cotton fields, her father encouraged her to focus on her studies so she could have an “inside” job, not outside in the fields. 

“Born of Mexican immigrants in a small town, Judge Ramirez is in many ways, epitomizes the American dream,” Cornyn said previously on the Senate floor. “She has extensive experience presiding over thousands of civil cases, with her work serving as a model for others around the country.”

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