Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Senate Confirms California Official Sandra Ikuta as Judge of Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Sandra Segal Ikuta, deputy director and general counsel of the California Resources Agency and a former partner at O’Melveny & Myers, was confirmed yesterday as a judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Senate confirmed Ikuta, 51, on a roll call of 81-0 to fill a seat that has been vacant since Judge James Browning took senior status in 2000.
Ikuta has held the Resources Agency position, which involves advising agency officials on legal and policy matters, overseeing the formulation of California Environmental Quality Act guidelines; and coordinating environmental litigation, since January 2004. She was previously at O’Melveny for nine years.
She joined the law firm in 1990 as an associate and became a partner in 1997. She specialized in environmental and natural resources law and co-chaired the firm’s environmental practice group.
Ikuta earned her law degree from UCLA, received her masters in journalism from Columbia University, and graduated from UC Berkeley after majoring in English. She is a past chair of the Executive Committee of the Environmental Section of the Los Angeles County Bar, and has been active as a writer and speaker on environmental issues.
She also served as a vice chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Before joining O’Melveny, she clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and before that for Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski.
She was unanimously rated “well qualified,” the highest possible rating, by the American Bar Association’s evaluating panel.
Her confirmation leaves two vacancies on the 28- judge court.
President Bush last year nominated N. Randy Smith, a trial judge from Pocatello, Idaho and former chairman of his state’s Republican Party, to fill the vacancy created when Judge Stephen S. Trott took senior status Dec. 31, 2004. The nomination recently cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.
Democrats on the committee backed the position of Sens. Dianne Feinstein—a member of the committee—and Barbara Boxer that because Trott, who lives in Boise, Idaho, was a Californian prior to his appointment, his successor should come from this state.
Republicans stood behind the nominee, who was unanimously rated well qualified by the ABA panel.
The other vacancy has existed since Judge Thomas G. Nelson took senior status Nov. 14, 2003. The president’s nominee for that seat, William G. Myers III, a Boise attorney and former Interior Department solicitor, was blocked by a Democratic filibuster and the nomination has been in limbo because Myers was not among a group of judges whom Democrats subsequently agreed to allow votes on.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company