Biden Nominates Black Female Michigan Judge for U.S Court of Appeals

(Photo: U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis)

President Joe Biden announced his judicial nominee on Wednesday, February 2, by tapping U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis as part of his prestigious selection today.

Judge Davis is Biden’s nominee to the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. She currently serves as the U.S District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Davis would be the first Black woman to serve on the Sixth Circuit from Michigan and only the second Black woman to serve.

Devoted to the rule of law and Constitution, Judge Davis is part of Biden’s plan to ensure that the country’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of America’s “greatest assets.”

The Kansas City native received her B.S. in healthcare administration from Wichita State University in 1989, Judge Davis received her Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law in 1992.

Judge Davis began her career in products liability and commercial litigation at Dickinson, Wright PLLC. According to her bio, she left private practice to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office, E.D. Michigan, in 1997, where she served in both the civil and criminal divisions. Judge Davis prosecuted cases at trial and appellate levels and spent part of her career as a deputy unit chief, high-intensity drug trafficking area liaison, and the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney before joining the bench in January 2016.

Judge Davis has served as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since December 2019, previously serving there as a Magistrate Judge from 2016 to 2019. In 2019, she was sworn in as the judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, The Detroit News reported.

Her career highlights and recognition honors include the State Bar of Michigan naming her a 2015 Champion of Justice.

This selection is Biden’s 14th announcement of nominees for federal judicial positions, bringing the number of announced federal judicial nominees to 84.

Biden has spent decades committed to strengthening the federal bench, which is why he continues to move rapidly to fill judicial vacancies. A total of nine Black women are federal circuit court nominees (before the Biden administration), including Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson. Biden’s total number of federal judicial nominations (84) and local D.C. courts nominations (13) represent a diverse array of leaders in the legal field, including 63 women, 25 African American nominees, 23 public defenders, and seven labor lawyers.

Biden spoke in late January of his intentional plans to nominate a Black woman (by the end of February) to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, which he called “long overdue,” according to a Reuters article.

Breyer, 83, announced his retirement in a letter to Biden, which vowed (before Judge Davis’ announcement was made public) to nominate someone “worthy.”

“Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,” Biden said in the article, adding that his decision to nominate will be of utmost importance. “The person I nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity – and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue, in my view.”

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