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View from the Steps of a Courthouse with Columns
Press Statement December 23, 2021

NAACP Applauds Nominations of Nancy Abudu and Judge Michelle Childs to Federal Appellate Courts

View from the Steps of a Courthouse with Columns


Washington DC — Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, made the following statement about President Biden's nominations of Nancy Abudu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  

"The NAACP applauds President Biden's nomination of two extraordinary Black women to the federal appellate courts. We have urged President Biden to address the lack of representation of Black women on our appellate courts. At the time President Biden took office, only four Black women served on these courts; each was at or near retirement age. In his first year, the President has nominated seven Black women to appellate seats.

Nancy Abudu's nomination to the Eleventh Circuit addresses a breathtaking gap in representation. The Eleventh Circuit is the federal appellate court for Georgia, Florida and Alabama. With the Supreme Court considering very few cases, it is the court of last resort for over 8.5 million Black Americans residing within its jurisdiction. This court is in desperate need of racial diversity. Only one of its twelve judges is Black, Judge Charles Wilson, and he is eligible to retire. We praise President Biden for addressing this longstanding underrepresentation and for nominating the first Black woman to serve on this court.

Nancy Abudu will bring extraordinary voting rights experience to the bench. As a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU, she has worked for years in the Deep South and elsewhere to ensure communities of color can fully participate in the political process. For example, she represented the Alabama NAACP in the Shelby County litigation.

Federal courts in the South have a particularly vital role in safeguarding our democracy. Judges serving on these courts should have a deep understanding of the history and modern-day struggle of Black voters to exercise the franchise. Lawyers like Nancy Abudu know how precious our democracy is and understand that voting rights are fundamental and essential to protecting all other rights. She will bring this important perspective to the job of ensuring equal justice under law for all Americans. We urge President Biden to nominate more voting rights lawyers to appellate and district courts in the South.

We also praise the elevation of Judge J. Michelle Childs to the D.C. Circuit. Judge Childs currently serves on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and was appointed by President Obama in 2010. The D.C. Circuit is known as the second highest court in the country and considers cases of national importance relating to civil rights, labor, health care, immigration, and the environment. Judge Childs will add not only racial and gender diversity to this court, but also geographic diversity as a Southerner. She will bring to the bench a decade of experience as a federal trial judge in the Deep South, where she has decided numerous cases involving voting rights and other federal civil rights. Importantly for the D.C Circuit, Judge Childs has a background in labor, having served as Deputy Director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and as Commissioner on the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission."