The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is thrilled by President Obama’s announcement today of the nomination of Judge Abdul K. Kallon to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. If confirmed, Judge Kallon would become the first African-American judge from Alabama on the Eleventh Circuit. Indeed, since 1891, only white males have represented Alabama on the federal court of appeals.
In addition, the appointment of Judge Kallon will promote diversity on the Eleventh Circuit, which is the federal appellate court for Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. This circuit has the highest percentage of African-American residents–25%–of any circuit in the country, yet only one of its twelve judges is African American: Judge Charles Wilson of Florida.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Judge Kallon to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Previously a litigator with one of Birmingham’s largest law firms, Judge Kallon has served as a district court judge with distinction for over six years and is widely respected by the bench and bar alike.
“This is a momentous day for the federal judiciary in the Deep South,” states Leslie Proll, LDF’s Director of Policy. “LDF has pressed for racial diversity on this important appellate court for years. It is unfathomable that Alabama has lacked diverse representation on its most important bench for so long and in such a powerful way. We look forward to Judge Kallon’s confirmation in this historic role.”
Because of his outstanding legal expertise and prior experience on the federal bench, LDF fully expects the Senate to promptly confirm Judge Kallon to the appellate position to fill a longstanding vacancy in a region that desperately needs judicial resources. “This particular vacancy is over two years old,” notes Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “The open seat has denied Alabama its full complement of three judges on the circuit court. Now, President Obama seeks to elevate one of his own appointees, who was unanimously confirmed to his district court judgeship by the Senate back in 2009 and was strongly supported by Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby. That Judge Kallon also brings historic diversity to this court should make his swift confirmation a certainty.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.