President Obama Nominates Four Distinguished Women to Serve as Federal Judges

Yesterday, President Obama demonstrated his continued commitment to increasing the diversity of our federal judiciary, so that it better reflects the nation it serves. He nominated four distinguished women to serve on four different courts—women who not only have the necessary intellect, integrity and fair-mindedness to serve as federal judges, but whose nominations also represent important “firsts” in their state or district:

  • If confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Carolyn McHugh would be the first woman from Utah to serve on that court.  Currently, the Tenth Circuit only has one woman judge serving among its nine active members. 
  • Pamela Reeves and Elizabeth Wolford would be the first women to serve as district court judges in the Eastern District of Tennessee and Western District of New York, respectively, if confirmed.
  • Debra Brown would be the first African-American district court judge to serve in the Northern District of Mississippi and the first African-American woman to serve as an Article III judge in the entire state of Mississippi, if confirmed. 

President Obama’s judicial nominees already have broken the gender barrier in circuit courts in six states, as well as nine district courts, and have shattered dozens of glass ceilings for minorities.  And on Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Michael McShane to be a district court judge in Oregon; if confirmed, he would be the fifth openly gay judge appointed by President Obama, compared to only one in history before.

These “firsts” are important, not because these judges will consider cases differently, but because a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system, and because these judges will serve as role models for generations of lawyers to come.

Finally, I wanted to note another “first” yesterday: for the first time, President Obama has nominated more district court judges than President George W. Bush had at the same point in his presidency.  While a faster pace of judicial retirements has led to a greater number of vacancies—many still without nominees—this record demonstrates the strength of the President’s commitment to addressing the judicial vacancy crisis in our country.  He will continue to work with home state Senators from both parties to identify and consider candidates for the federal judiciary.  We urge the Senate to consider yesterday’s nominees—and all judicial nominees—without unnecessary delay.

For more information:

Chris Kang is Senior Counsel to the President
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