President Joe Biden announced two more Black female judicial nominees on Tuesday, theGrio is exclusively reporting.
Judge Julie S. Sneed, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, are the latest judges added to the president’s historic number of Black women nominated to the federal bench.
“The Biden-Harris administration continues to set records when it comes to professional and demographic diversity,” said Stephen Benjamin, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, in a statement provided to theGrio.
To date, 32 Black women appointed by Biden have been confirmed by the Senate to lifetime judgeships.
Benjamin, who is also a senior adviser to the president, noted that the number of Black female federal judges is “more than any single administration in history.”
The former mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, continued, “Today’s announcement includes two more Black women in Southern states – with bipartisan backing – both of whom are exceptionally well qualified and ready to hit the ground running once confirmed.”
Sneed has served as a U.S. magistrate judge for the Middle District of Florida since June 2015. Before her judgeship, she worked as a partner and associate at law firms Akerman LLP and Fowler White Boggs Banker, P.A. for more than a decade.
She served as a law clerk for Judge James D. Whittemore on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida from 2000 to 2004 and Judge Chris W. Altenbernd on the Florida Second District Court of Appeal from 1995 to 1997.
Sneed received her J.D. from Florida State University College of Law in 1994 and her B.S. from the University of Florida in 1991.
Austin has been a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of South Carolina since 2011. Before that, she worked in private practice at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, where she started as an associate in the late ’90s and worked her way up to being a partner in 2006.
Austin served as a law clerk for Judge Matthew J. Perry Jr. on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina from 1996 to 1997.
She received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1996 and her B.S. from the University of South Carolina School of Engineering in 1989.
Sneed and Austin are among four women in Florida and South Carolina in Tuesday’s announcement of Biden’s latest judicial nominations. Three of the four are women of color.
If Sneed and Austin and two other Black female judicial nominees awaiting action by the Senate are confirmed, Biden will have matched the total number of Black women confirmed by former Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush. As the White House touts, this administration will have accomplished in three years what the three most recent U.S. presidents did in two decades.
The nominations continue a streak of women and people of color selected by Biden. Since entering the White House in 2021, the president has worked to reshape the federal courts to better reflect the nation’s diversity.
Of the 148 life-tenured federal judges confirmed, two-thirds are women and people of color. They also include a record number of civil rights lawyers and public defenders.
Biden’s quest to diversify the federal bench comes after Trump reshaped both the U.S. Supreme Court and certain lower federal courts with right-wing conservative judges.
Biden’s most praised judicial nominee was Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who last year was sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
While celebrating Jackson’s historic confirmation by the Senate during a ceremony on the White House South Lawn in April 2022, the president said he was “proud” to nominate America’s first Black female justice – something he said he thought about for a “long, long time.”
“When I decided to run, this was one of the first decisions I made. I could see it,” said Biden. “I could see it as a day of hope…a day when, once again, the moral arc of the universe, as [former President] Barack [Obama] used to quote all the time, bends just a little more toward justice.”
Earlier, in a statement marking his 100th judicial confirmation in February, Biden said he was “especially proud” that his nominees “represent the diversity that is one of our best assets as a nation.”
“We have made important progress in ensuring that the federal judiciary not only looks more like the nation as a whole,” said the president, “but also includes judges from professional backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented on the bench.”
Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
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