MN Justice Wilhelmina Wright nominated to the federal bench

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President Barack Obama has nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright to sit on the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

She would replace Chief Judge Michael Davis, who announced earlier this year that he planned to step down this summer.

“I am proud to nominate Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in a statement. “She has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”

Wright, 51, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2012, and won election to a full 10-year term in November 2014.

Prior to that, she served as a state appeals court for 10 years, a district judge in Ramsey County and an assistant U.S. attorney.

Wright earned her bachelor's degree at Yale and her law degree at Harvard.

Minnesota's two U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, recommended Wright for the post in February on the recommendation of a bipartisan advisory committee.

"Justice Wright has it all: a brilliant legal mind, an enormous breadth of experience, and a commitment to justice and public service," Klobuchar said in a news release. "I know she will serve Minnesota with the same distinction that has marked her entire career."

Like Judge Davis, Wright is African American.

The seven-member Minnesota Supreme Court will lose both its African-American justices with her departure and the upcoming retirement of Justice Alan Page.

Gov. Dayton will name their successors.

Possible long wait for confirmation

Wright is considered a moderate, the Star Tribune notes, which should help her chances of being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Her path to confirmation could be a long one, since most of the president's judicial nominations have been stalled in the Senate.

In the three months since Republicans took control, only one of the president's 17 judicial nominees has been confirmed, according to JudicialNominations.org,which tracks the number of judicial vacancies in the U.S.

Davis, the only black judge on the federal bench in Minnesota history, will step down as chief federal judge on July 1 and as a district judge in August.

He will assume senior judge status, meaning he can continue to hear cases on a part-time or full-time basis, according to the Star Tribune.

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