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LDF Celebrates Judge Robert Wilkins’ Confirmation to D.C. Circuit and Urges Obama Administration to Continue Diversifying Appellate Courts

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1/14/14

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) applauds the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Judge Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.   

Judge Wilkins is one of three individuals nominated to the D.C. Circuit by President Obama in a Rose Garden ceremony last June, attended by LDF. With its special jurisdiction for reviewing the actions of federal agencies, the D.C. Circuit is the most important federal appeals court. The other nominees, Cornelia (Nina) Pillard—a former LDF lawyer—and Patricia Millett, were confirmed by the Senate in December.     

Judge Wilkins currently serves on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where he was appointed by President Obama in 2010. As an attorney, Judge Wilkins worked for over a decade for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. He also served as a partner at one of Washington’s finest law firms, Venable.

“This day has been a long time coming. Judge Wilkins is a fabulous choice, and we are confident that he will serve with distinction for decades to come. Importantly, he will bring both racial and professional diversity to this critical court,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel.

With Judge Wilkins’ confirmation, President Obama has now appointed nine African Americans to federal appellate courts:

  • Andre Davis, Fourth Circuit (2009)
  • Joseph Greenaway, Third Circuit (2010)
  • O. Rogeriee Thompson, First Circuit (2010)
  • James Wynn, Fourth Circuit (2010)
  • Raymond Lohier, Second Circuit (2010)
  • James Graves, Fifth Circuit (2011)
  • Bernice Donald, Sixth Circuit (2011)
  • Paul Watford, Ninth Circuit (2012)
  • Robert Wilkins, D.C. Circuit (2014)    

President Obama’s first African American appellate nominee, Judge Andre Davis from Maryland, has announced he will take senior status soon, creating a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit. Judge Davis is the first and only African American from Maryland to serve on the Fourth Circuit. 

Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington office, stated: “We urge the Administration to nominate additional African Americans to the appellate courts, including to the Maryland seat on the Fourth Circuit.  This is a legacy issue for President Obama; it is essential that he leaves a lasting imprint on diversity in the federal judiciary.”