President Biden Nominates Progressive Arizona Attorney For Ninth Circuit Court

June 16, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

On Thursday, President Joe Biden nominated Phoenix attorney Roopali Desai as a candidate for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Desai is best known for her election law work. Some of Desai’s most prominent recent work included her representation of the Arizona Secretary of State’s office after the 2020 general election. Desai served on Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ transition team from December 2018 to January 2019. 

In court filings to the Arizona Republican Party’s challenge to the state’s mail-in early voting system, Desai characterized challenges to election integrity as “legally baseless” means to an end of restricting voter rights. In her work, she echoed progressive challenges to election integrity doubts as a threat to democracy. 

“Their claims are part of a broader ongoing effort to sow doubt about our electoral process to justify infringing voting rights,” wrote Desai. 

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ruled earlier this month that mail-in voting didn’t violate the state constitution.

Desai also sued to stop the State Senate’s Cyber Ninjas-led audit on behalf of the Arizona Democratic Party. That lawsuit failed; Desai then sued for open records access to the audit. That case is still underway. 

Desai also served as counsel for Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) successful challenge to the state’s mask mandate ban last November, a ruling that overturned a number of laws tied to the state budget. 

On other school matters, Desai defended a challenge to Prop 305 in 2017 — a ballot initiative brought by Save Our Schools Arizona (SOS), a public school activist organization opposing school choice expansion. Voters rolled back school choice expansion through the ballot initiative in November 2018. Desai joined SOS’s board of directors in January 2019, and has served on it since. 

Desai wrote the 100-word ballot initiative summary for Prop 208, then defended challenges to it. The Arizona Supreme Court sided with Desai on the ballot initiative summary. However, the Maricopa County Superior Court struck down Prop 208 as unconstitutional in March.

Desai also wrote the 100-word ballot initiative summary for Prop 207, which legalized marijuana for adults over 21 years old.

In the past, Desai served as legal counsel for the campaigns of Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona (PFFAZ), and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association.

USA Today named Desai one of their 12 national honorees for 2022 Women of the Year. Desai is also a professor of practice with the University of Arizona (UArizona) James E. Rogers College of Law. Desai earned her bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from UArizona, later earning her Master of Public Health and a law degree from the university. 

Along with Desai, Biden’s circuit court nominees were Eastern District of Louisiana Judge Dana Douglas for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley Garcia for the D.C. Circuit.

Biden’s latest district court nominees were Puerto Rico District Court Clerk María del Antongiori-Jordán for Puerto Rico District Court, Puerto Rico Court of Appeals Judge Gina Méndez-Miró to the Puerto Rico District Court, Puerto Rico District Court Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé for Puerto Rico District Court, and attorney Jerry Blackwell for the Minnesota District Court.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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