Top: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi and Lydia Griggsby Bottom: Tiffany Cunningham and Julien Neals

Earlier this week President Joe Biden nominated five accomplished Blacks to judicial seats in federal court, accounting for half of the 10 people nominated to the positions.

Biden nominees, Attorney Tiffany Cunningham, is a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago and was tapped for a judicial seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, another nominee, is a former federal public defender She was nominated to serve on Chicago’s Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom Black leaders in 2016 urged President Barack Obama to nominate for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia, was tapped by President Biden to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

The other two Black nominees are Judge Lydia Griggsby, who made history as the first Black judicial nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and Morehouse graduate Julien Neals, who was nominated to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.

During Biden’s president campaign which eventually earned him the presidency, he promised to diversify the judicial seats in the nation’s federal courts after former reality TV host and occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., Donald Trump, chose mostly white males to serve on the bench. Additionally, during his presidential campaign, Biden promised to nominate a Black woman to fill his first Supreme Court vacancy.

The judicial nominees must be approved by a majority in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In a statement, Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that lack of diversity in his statement.

“I am particularly heartened by the nomination of Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to an Illinois seat on the Seventh Circuit. As a former federal public defender, Ms. Jackson-Akiwumi brings with her an important perspective that is a valuable asset to the judiciary. Once confirmed, Ms. Jackson-Akiwumi will bring much-needed demographic diversity back to the Seventh Circuit, which currently has no African American judges,” Durbin said.

In a statement, Biden made clear that the diversity in his nominations for lifetime appointments was intentional.

“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession. Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong,” he said.

White House officials said the first group of judicial nominees are lawyers “who have excelled in the legal field in a wide range of positions, including as renowned jurists, public defenders, prosecutors, in the private sector, in the military and as public servants at all levels of government.”

White House officials say Biden’s initial picks are “groundbreaking nominees,” including three African American women chosen for Circuit Court vacancies, as well as candidates who, if confirmed, would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history, the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C., and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.”

A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, Jackson-Akiwumi, 41, is a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP in Washington.

A Harvard Law School graduate and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of M.I.T., Cunningham is partner at Chicago’s Perkins Coie law firm. She handles trial and appellate cases for large multinational companies and cases involving complex patent and trade secret disputes.

Brown Jackson, who was tapped to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. Brown Jackson has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2013. 

-Chicago Crusader / BlackPressUSA