Senate Confirms First Black Woman Judge to Serve on 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals

by Xara Aziz

The US Senate has officially confirmed US Magistrate Judge Dana Douglas to serve on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The watershed moment marks President Joe Biden’s first Black woman appointee to a right-wing-leaning court that has often thwarted his policies.

The Democratic-led Senate voted in favor of Douglas from Louisiana to the New Orleans-based court in a 65-31 vote. She has now become only the fourth active Democratic appointee on a court controlled by 12 Republican-nominated judges.

Douglas’s vote also marks the third time in just two weeks that the Senate has confirmed a Black woman judge. It sets a groundbreaking record for Biden, who has won the appointment of 11 Black women federal appellate judges, including Senate’s endorsement of Delaware Supreme Court Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves’ nomination to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Reuters.

Prior to Douglas’ appointment, she served as a federal magistrate judge in New Orleans and was a partner at Liskow & Lewis, one of Louisiana’s leading law firms. She was the former president of the New Orleans Bar Association and the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Society and volunteered in legal clinics, where she was involved with multiple local and state legal groups. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and a Juris Doctor from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Her confirmation was backed by two Republican senators, including John Kennedy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held its last hearing for judicial nominees of the congressional term.

At the time of the hearing, senators heard from four of Biden’s nominees to district courts. The nominees included Arun Subramanian, a former clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and P. Casey Pitts, a San Francisco-based lawyer representing workers, labor unions and consumers. Should he be confirmed, he would become the only openly gay judge on San Francisco’s federal court.

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