judges, Judge Cristal Brisco, Black women, Biden

Meet The History-Making Black Women Federal Judges In South Carolina And Indiana

Biden has witnessed more Black female federal judges appointed under his administration than ever before.

Two Black women have made history in their respective state court systems. 

As of Jan. 24, Superior Judge Cristal C. Brisco is now the first Black judge and woman of color to serve as a lifetime federal judge in the Northern District of Indiana, The Times reports. Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn Austin will now be the only Black woman currently serving as a federal judge in the District of South Carolina. Austin is filling the last vacant seat following Judge J. Michelle Childs’ confirmation in 2022 to the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. 

The U.S. Senate voted Brisco to a lifetime judge’s post by 67-32, and Austin was confirmed 80-17. 

President Joe Biden nominated both to serve on the U.S. District Courts late last year in a history-defining moment. These endorsements reveal that 35 Black women have been approved by Biden and confirmed by senators as federal judges. Biden has witnessed more Black female federal judges appointed under his administration than ever before.

Brisco, who grew up in Gary, Indiana, earned her bachelor’s degree at Valparaiso University in 2002 and graduated from law school at the University of Notre Dame in 2006. She has served on the St. Joseph County Superior Court since 2021 and has concurrently served on the Indiana Commercial Court since 2022. Before this, from 2018 to 2021, she served as a magistrate judge for the St. Joseph County Circuit Court in Mishawaka, Indiana.

“I roll up my sleeves to put in the work of research and study of the law so that I can issue well-reasoned decisions that use clear and accessible language, so that the litigants who appear before me, and the public alike, understand the reasoning behind and are able to receive fair and impartial justice,” Brisco said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination last month, according to The Times.

A Sumter, South Carolina, native, Judge Austin is the third Black South Carolina Law alumnae nominated for a federal judgeship in the last two years. She was appointed to her first eight-year term as a United States magistrate judge for the District of South Carolina in 2011 and was reappointed in 2019. Prior to that, she worked in private practice at Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, PLLC, as an associate from 1999 to 2006 and as a partner starting in 2006.

Congratulations to these two history-making Black women!

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