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Biden nominates New Orleans magistrate for 5th Circuit seat


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated a New Orleans magistrate to become the first minority woman on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Magistrate Dana Douglas, who awaits U.S. Senate confirmation, was selected by Biden for the open seat on the federal appeals court that oversees district courts in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

The White House announced Douglas and six other federal judicial nominees on Wednesday, highlighting diversity in the choices. Along with Douglas, who is Black, the White House said the nominees — if confirmed — include firsts for a Latino judge on the Washington, D.C. appeals court, a South Asian person on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and an openly LGBT federal district judge in Puerto Rico.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, in a statement, said he recently met Douglas and looked “forward to reviewing her record and getting to know her more in the coming weeks and when she comes before the Judiciary Committee.”

Douglas was appointed federal magistrate judge in 2019 by the judges of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Among those backing her nomination were former Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the National Urban League, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore.

A Loyola Law School graduate, Douglas served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle and later joined the Liskow & Lewis firm.

She is a former president of both the New Orleans Bar Association and the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Society and served on the New Orleans Civil Service Commission. At Liskow & Lewis, she “focused on energy, products liability, and intellectual property litigation,” according to the firm.

Douglas would fill an opening left by Judge James Dennis, a nominee of President Bill Clinton who is 86 and took “senior status” last year, with a reduced caseload, the newspaper reported. Another vacancy on the appellate court will arrive in August with the resignation of Judge Gregg Costa, a nominee of President Barack Obama who chose to leave the lifetime federal post at age 49, the newspaper said.

With the picks, the Biden administration has made 105 federal judicial nominations so far, the White House said. New nominations stalled in 2022 as focus turned to confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson for U.S. Supreme Court.

As of Tuesday, there were 75 vacancies on federal district and circuit courts nationwide, with 11 nominations pending.

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