In good news for the Indian diaspora, Roopali H Desai, an Indian American litigator has become the first South Asian to be appointed judge to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The US Senate confirmed the appointment.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the Ninth Circuit is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals, covering a total of 9 states and 2 territories and with 29 active judgeships, thus, making it a major feat for Desai to be the first Indian American judge on the circuit.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said, “It comes as no surprise that Ms Desai’s nomination has received high praise across the political and ideological spectrum, as well as from state judges, law enforcement officials, and three different fire fighters’ organisations. With 16 years of experience as a litigator, she is an outstanding addition to the Ninth Circuit.”
Who is Roopali Desai?
Renowned litigator Roopali Desai, who is of Indian origin, was born in Toronto, Canada. Desai graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona and became one of the top litigators in the state after a varied law career.
Desai is a partner at Coppersmith Brockelman where she has practised since 2007. From 2006 to 2007, Desai was an associate at Lewis & Roca. She served as a law clerk for Chief Judge Mary Schroeder on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2005 to 2006. Desai received her Juris Doctor degree in 2005 from the University of Arizona.
Roopali Desai started representing the office of Arizona Secretary of State in several cases after the 2020 US Presidential elections, while discrepancies arose around the results of the state. She also launched a recreational marijuana programme in the state and was named the Woman of the Year in 2022 by USA Today magazine.
Born in 1978, Roopali H Desai has ancestral roots in Gujarat. Her family moved to Canada where she was born.