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Indian American Roopali H. Desai Becomes First South Asian Woman to Serve as Judge on 9th Circuit Court

Indian American Roopali H. Desai Becomes First South Asian Woman to Serve as Judge on 9th Circuit Court

  • The lawyer from Arizona was confirmed on Aug. 4 with a 67-29 Senate vote, thanks in part to the efforts of Arizona Sen.Kyrsten Sinema.

Arizona lawyer Roopali H. Desai has become the first South Asian woman to serve as a judge on the 9th circuit court, which is based in San Francisco. The Indian American was confirmed to serve in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with a 67-29 Senate vote on Aug. 4. She replaces Judge Andrew David Hurwitz, who retired in late January.

The 9th Circuit hears appeals of district court rulings in nine states and two territories. It stretches from Missoula, Mont., to the Northern Marianas Islands and from Nogales to Nome, Alaska.

Arizona Central noted that “the bipartisan action” for Desai’s confirmation “delivered the most votes that any circuit court nominee has received since President Joe Biden took office. Desai was nominated in June this year. “The period between her nomination and confirmation, just 50 days, is the fastest for a circuit court nominee since President Bill Clinton’s administration,” Arizona Central said.

The paper also reported that “Desai’s success on the path to confirmation was in large part because of Sinema (Arizona Sen.Kyrsten Sinema), “who appeared to lobby Republicans on the Senate floor while ballots were being cast.” She was also seen sharing ”enthusiastic embrace” with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), “when they changed their no votes to yeses,” the report added. 

The daughter of immigrants from India, Desai was born in Canada before coming to Phoenix as a child. She was a partner at Coppersmith Brockelman where she has practiced since 2007. 

Before that, she was an associate at Lewis & Roca and served as a law clerk for Chief Judge Mary Schroeder on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She received her J.D. in 2005, her M.P.H in 2001, and her B.A. in 2000, all from the University of Arizona.

According to the Tucson Sentinel, she was named the Arizona honoree among USA Today’s “Women of the Year” in March, “after becoming prominent in her work fighting lawsuits over Biden’s election victory in Arizona.”

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