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Freeman Confirmed as Third Circuit’s First Woman of Color (1)

Sept. 29, 2022, 1:53 PMUpdated: Sept. 29, 2022, 4:53 PM

Former public defender Arianna Freeman became the first Black woman and first woman of color confirmed to a seat on the Philadelphia-based US appeals court.

The Senate confirmed Freeman 50-47 on Thursday to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. A previous attempt to confirm her this month fell short in the chamber narrolwy controlled by Democrats when when two of their members were absent. The apparent vote counting issue was the first such defeat of a Biden judicial nominee.

Freeman is the eighth former federal public defender confirmed to the appellate bench under Biden in his aim to diversify the professional backgrounds of judges.

Since returning from their August recces, Senate Democrats have prioritized circuit nominees, with September’s seven confirmations doubling the number for the entire year through August.

A Senate panel also voted Thursday to advance the nominations of two more Biden nominees for the Third Circuit, including Delaware Supreme Court Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves.

Montgomery-Reeves, who previously served on the Delaware Court of Chancery, received a 13-9 vote on her nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday. She was supported by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) in addition to all the committee Democrats.

Cindy Chung, the US attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania nominated to the same circuit, received a 12-10 vote on her nomination. She had Republican support from Graham.

The committee also voted to advance the nominations of four district nominees to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It voted 13-9 on the nomination of Kelley Brisbon Hodge, 18-4 on John Frank Murphy, 13-9 on Mia Roberts Perez, and 13-9 on Kai Scott.

(Updates with Freeman confirmation.)

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