9th Circuit Court of Appeals Image via CSNafzger/Shutterstock

With over 15 years of experience practicing in the State of Arizona, Roopali Desai is Biden’s first nomination to the Phoenix chambers, and would be the first South Asian Judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of judicial nominees. Among them was Roopali H. Desai, a Phoenix attorney with extensive experience litigating political cases in Arizona.

If confirmed, Desai would be the first South Asian person to serve on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th District. 

The 9th Circuit covers cases in nine western states—Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii—as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. It also has jurisdiction over enforcing orders or reviewing petitions from some federal agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Desai’s roots are in Arizona, having graduated from the University of Arizona with her bachelor’s degree in 2000, master’s in 2001, and juris doctor in 2005. She is a partner at Coppersmith Brockelman in Phoenix, specializing in civil litigation, civil appeals, and political law.

Desai has argued for various state agencies, including suing on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office and the Arizona Democratic Party in regards to the Republican-led partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results.

She also successfully defended Proposition 208—an education tax initiative that voters passed— from opposition in 2021, and wrote and defended Proposition 207, which led to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona.

Her successful litigation has earned her numerous local and national awards and recognitions, including:

  • Chambers USA ranking in 2021 and 2022
  • One of 12 Women of the Year 2022 by USA Today
  • Phoenix Civil Rights “Lawyer of the Year” 2021 by The Best Lawyers in America
  • A Woman of Achievement in 2021 by In Business
  • Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2016
  • Best Political Lawyer from Arizona Capitol Times in 2019 and 2021

Desai is President Biden’s first nomination for the Phoenix chambers of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and if confirmed, she will fill Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz’s vacancy when he retires.

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