Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Senate Confirms Historic Addition to Federal Bench

(CN) - The U.S. Senate confirmed Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, making her the state's first black female federal judge.

Wright was confirmed after a 58-36 vote on Tuesday.

Wright replaced former Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, who became a senior judge on Aug. 1, and was the state's first black federal judge.

Democratic Minnesota Sens., Amy Klobucher and Al Franken both recommended that Wright be Davis's replacement in February 2015.

"The confirmation of Mimi Wright to be Federal District Court Judge is a major victory for Minnesota," Klobucher said in a joint statement she and Franken released after the judge's confirmation.

"She is a dedicated public servant with a distinguished career spanning all levels of the state and federal legal system," she continued. "I have no doubt she will serve Minnesota well."

"In her many years of public service, Mimi Wright has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the fair and just application of the law," Franken said, echoing his colleagues praise of Wright. "This is an important day for Minnesota and for our justice system."

Wright, 52, graduated with honors from Yale University in 1986 with a degree in literature, and she received her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1989.

She was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Gov. Mark Dayton in Sept 2012. Previously, she served as a trial Judge in Ramsey County, Minn., and on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Klobuchar said Wright's confirmation, just 171 days after Davis vacated his seat, was actually handled pretty quickly by the Senate. The average time a seat is vacant is 514 days, she said.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't resistance to her appointment.

Wright had to weather an effort to block her confirmation by the conservative Heritage Action for America, which objected to her on the grounds of a law review she wrote in college in which she criticized former President Ronald Reagan, the chief justice and property rights.

Despite the group's objections, 14 Republicans voted in her favor.

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