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Biden Nominee Would be First Black Woman on Third Circuit (2)

Jan. 19, 2022, 3:43 PMUpdated: Jan. 19, 2022, 9:24 PM

Arianna Freeman is President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the first Black woman judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Freeman, the managing attorney with the Federal Defender Office for the Eastern District of Philadelphia, was among eight judicial nominees sent to the Senate on Wednesday by the White House.

Freeman is the eighth Black woman Biden has nominated to the federal appellate bench. Prior to the Biden administration, eight Black women served as federal appeals court judges in history. Although he hasn’t had a chance yet, Biden said he plans to name the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The diverse new slate also included lawyers hailing from an ACLU affiliate, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and Jones Day.

Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, nominated to the Eastern District of New York, would be the first Muslim woman to be a federal judge, according to the White House. Biden appointed the first ever Muslim judge, Zahid Quraishi, last year.

Jennifer Rearden, a Gibson Dunn partner, would serve on the Southern District of New York. President Donald Trump had selected Rearden for a seat on the same court in 2020, but the Senate didn’t act on her nomination.

Biden also nominated:

  • Tiffany Cartwright, a civil rights lawyer at MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, to the Western District of Washington;
  • Ana Isabel de Alba, a California Superior Court judge, to the Eastern District of California;
  • Robert Steven Huie, a Jones Day attorney, to the Southern District of California;
  • Natasha Merle, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to the Eastern District of New York; and
  • Nina Nin-Yuen Wang, a U.S. magistrate judge, to the District of Colorado.

If confirmed, Freeman would replace Judge Theodore McKee on the Pennsylvania-based Third Circuit. She is one of Biden’s few nominees to states with at least one Republican senator.

Biden has mostly focused judicial nominations on states represented by two Democrats in the Senate, where it is likely easier for the White House to find common ground and get them confirmed.

While home-state Senate backing isn’t needed for a circuit nomination to advance after Republicans did away with that practice under Donald Trump, the Biden White House has so far still consulted with those senators.

An aide for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said the senator was consulted by the White House on the nomination but input from his office was rejected.

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey praised Freeman as highly qualified. “Her extensive legal experience and keen intellect, combined with her deep commitment to the community and to the principles of fairness and equal justice, will serve the Third Circuit well,” Casey said in a statement.

The new nominations come a day before Biden marks a year in office.

(Updates with additional information on Freeman nomination and nominations sent to Senate.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com