Change that you can believe. President Barack Obama has nominated a distinguished Black lesbian attorney to serve as a federal judge.
Staci Michelle Yandle was nominated yesterday to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. If confirmed by the Senate, Yandle would become the first Black judge "ever on that court and the first openly gay judge in the 7th Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin," notes Politico.
Yandle follows Deborah Batts, the groundbreaking Black lesbian jurist whom President Bill Clinton nominated to the Southern District of New York in 1994. Batts became the first ever openly LGBT federal judge.
Obama nominated Yandle on Thursday as part of a group of four nominees. The nomination packet also included Salvador Mendoza, Jr., currently a county judge in Washington state, as the Administration's choice for the Eastern District of that state. Mendoza would become the first Latino judge in that position.
Yandle has served as a solo practitioner focusing on civil litigation in southern Illinois since 2007, according to a biography provided by the White House. She received her law degree in 1987 from Vanderbilt University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1983. Yandle also previously served on the Illinois Gaming Board and on the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
"Increasing diversity on the bench has been a legacy priority for Obama, and one that’s become an emphasis for the White House over the past year under Denis McDonough’s leadership as chief of staff," notes Politico.
This is not the first time that Obama has nominated a Black openly LGBT person to the federal judiciary. In November 2012, Obama nominated William Thomas to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio initially recommended Thomas but later stalled the nomination. Thomas' nomination was not resubmitted this year.
Obama has nominated more Black, Latino and LGBT judges than any previous president, according to the White House. History was made when the Senate confirmed U. S. District Court Judge Pamela Chen to become the first openly gay, Asian-American judge on the federal bench in 2013. Chen serves on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Obama also nominated U. S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro as the first out Latina on the federal bench in 2012. Quiñones was confirmed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2013.
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INFOGRAPHIC: Obama Administration's Judicial Nominees