Who Is Emilio M. Garza?

Judge Emilio M. Garza serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and has a strong conservative track record.

Born in San Antonio, in 1947, Garza earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and 1970. He was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1970 to 1973 and received his law degree from University of Texas School of Law in 1976.

Garza was in private practice with Clemens & Spencer in San Antonio from 1976 to 1987, when he became a district judge in Bexar County, Texas. In 1988, he was nominated by President Reagan the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas. The seat was vacated by William S. Sessions.

Garza was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in 1991.

Conservative Record

Liberals call Garza "the rare sitting judge who has written opinions expressly urging the reversal" of decisions providing abortion rights.

In Sojourner v. Edwards, Garza said a Louisiana abortion law was unconstitutional becaused it criminalized abortions with the exception of cases of rape or incest and when it was necessary to save the life of the mother. He disagreed with Supreme Court in the case, writing, "the Constitution says absolutely nothing about abortion."

In Causeway Medical Suite v. Ieyoub, Garza voted with the majority to strike down parts of a parental notification law. He suggested that Roe v. Wade is flawed and that it is being upheld not for its reasoning but because of "the primacy of settled expectations about constitutional law."

Garza also upheld the arrest of a mother for not wearing a seatbelt in Atwater v. City of Lago Vista. The woman was driving with her children through a residential neighborhood in violation of Texas' seat belt law when a police officer pulled her over, threatened her, handcuffed her and arrested her. The 5th Circuit held that the officer had probable cause to arrest her and did not do so in an "extraordinary manner." The Supreme Court affirmed the decision.

In Sierra Club v. Peterson, Garza wrote the opinion against a suit by environmental groups challenging a U.S. Forest Service policy of clear-cutting in the Texas forests.

Garza also testified before Congress about sentencing guidelines in 1995. "Although I have heard and understand the equal protection arguments of those who challenge the constitutionality of the guidelines based on their disparate impact on African-Americans, I have also learned and come to understand the devastating consequences to unborn children of mothers addicted to crack."

He previously was interviewed in 1991 for the Supreme Court vacancy created when Justice Thurgood Marshall retired. The seat ultimately went to Justice Clarence Thomas.

Garza has never married and is a devout Roman Catholic. If confirmed, he would be the first Hispanic to serve on the High Court.