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Message from BALIF Board (April 1, 2014)

01 Apr 2014 9:44 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

In the true spirit of Spring cleaning, the BALIF Judiciary Committee is streamlining BALIF's judicial endorsement process.


BALIF's founding mission is to seek to diversify the state and federal bench with LBGT judges. To further this goal, the BALIF Judiciary Committee has streamlined the process for securing BALIF endorsements for judicial candidates.


Historically, the endorsement process required a plebiscite. This meant that candidates vetted by BALIF's Judiciary Committee and recommended for endorsement had to receive an affirmative vote of 30 percent (later reduced to 20 percent) of the BALIF membership. The plebiscite was time consuming, costly (requiring thousands of dollars in election administration costs) and ineffective: in most instances, the required vote percentage was not achieved, and the BALIF Board would then take up the issue at its next regularly calendared meeting.


On March 17, 2014, the BALIF Board unanimously voted to adopt the recommendation of the BALIF Judiciary Committee to do away with the plebiscite. Going forward, judicial candidates vetted and recommended by the BALIF Judiciary Committee for endorsement will automatically receive BALIF's endorsement unless three or more members of the BALIF Board request discussion and affirmative action by the BALIF Board as a whole. This streamlined process ensures that BALIF will continue to thoroughly vet candidates for the state and federal bench, and complete the endorsement process without delay and added expense.  


We are the BALIF Judiciary Committee...and we want to recruit you!


Diversifying the bench is a multi-faceted process. The BALIF Judiciary Committee and its Attorney and Judicial Advisory Committees are working hard to identify qualified LGBT candidates for the bench. The path to the bench includes several stages of formal evaluation, which include evaluation by the State Commission, the Commission on Judicial Nominations and Evaluations (JNE), and local county bar association judicial commissions. Each of these commissions need greater diversity and input from the LGBT legal community, and BALIF is urging its members to participate in the formal evaluation process by:


1.       Applying to be a JNE Commissioner: The California State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominations (JNE) assists the Governor in the judicial selection process by providing independent, comprehensive, accurate and fair evaluations of candidates for judicial appointment and nomination. We need LGBT representation on this 37-member commission. Please consider applying: www.calbar.ca.gov/About Us/JudicialNomineesEvaluation.aspx. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2014.


2.       Participating in your Local Bar Judiciary Committee: Each of the San Francisco Bay Area bar associations has a judiciary committee that regularly vets judicial candidates in contract with the Governor's Office. If you are active with your local county bar, or want to be, this an excellent way to increase LGBT participating in the judicial vetting process. BALIF can help facilitate your involvement with your local bar association judiciary committee. Email us at judiciary@balif.org.


3.       Joining BALIF's Judiciary Committee: The Committee's ongoing work program is sowing the seeds for greater LGBT diversity on our state and federal benches. Get involved. Join us. We have lots for you to do. Email us at judiciary@balif.org.

Grow our Judiciary with LGBT judges.


There are an unprecedented number of vacancies on the state and federal bench - an historic opportunity for the LGBT community. There is one vacancy on the California Supreme Court, and at least two vacancies on the California Court of Appeals, First Appellate District. There are vacancies at many Bay Area Superior Courts. Some positions on the Northern District Court of California bench also are open.  


Currently, however, there are no LGBT Article III judges in the Northern District of California. There are no LGBT judges on the California Supreme Court. There is only one openly gay justice serving on the California Court of Appeals.


The time to get involved is now. Help grow our judiciary with LGBT judges by getting involved in the evaluation and selection process. We need you.


For more information on how you can help, contact judiciary@balif.org.



Elizabeth Pritzker & Andrew Vu

BALIF Board Judiciary Committee Co-Chairs

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