HomePoliticsRepublican blocks confirmation of first Native American federal judge for Montana

Republican blocks confirmation of first Native American federal judge for Montana

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A Republican lawmaker from Montana blocked a Biden administration judicial nominee who would have been the first Native American federal district court judge, officials said Wednesday.

Attorney Danna Jackson of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes was nominated last month by President Joe Biden. The post requires Senate confirmation.

Sen. Steve Daines has excluded Jackson from consideration because the administration never sought his consent before her appointment, said Rachel Dumke, a spokesperson for the lawmaker.

“Senator Daines believes that confirming life terms to federal judges is one of the most important decisions he will make and that these individuals should be confident that they are not making law from the bench,” Dumke said in a press release statement sent by email.

A White House spokesperson refuted Dumke’s claim, saying members of Daines’ team interviewed Jackson last year, but the senator declined to meet with her.

“This alleged lack of consultation appears to be little more than a pretext, and it is shameful that Senator Daines Montana is depriving Montana of the talents of a principled, fair and impartial jurist like Danna Jackson,” said Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates.

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Daines’ opposition was previously reported by Bloomberg Law.

According to the American Bar Association, the vast majority of federal judges are white men.

Of more than 1,400 federal judges at the end of last year, only four were Native American and two others identified as part Native American, according to the association. That’s less than 1% of federal judges, while Native Americans make up nearly 3% of the U.S. population.

Jackson did not immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment from Salish and Kootenai’s legal department.

She previously served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior and as chief legal counsel for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Her nomination was supported by Montana’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Jon Tester, and representatives of the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund. Tester said Jackson was well qualified.

The Senate confirmed the 200th federal judge of Biden’s term last week, about a month earlier than when former President Donald Trump reached that mark during his term.

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