Published on: Wednesday, January 19, 2022

President Joe Biden has nominated a veteran public defender, Arianna J. Freeman, to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where she would be the first woman of color to sit on an appellate bench that oversees cases for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands (article available here).

Freeman is a managing attorney with the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, based in Philadelphia, a job she has held since 2016, according to the White House. After her nomination Wednesday, she would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

“Ms. Freeman is a highly qualified nominee. Her extensive legal experience and keen intellect, combined with her deep commitment to the community and to the principles of fairness and equal justice, will serve the Third Circuit well,” he said in a statement. “This is a historic nomination, not only for Pennsylvania, but for the entire Third Circuit.”

Along with being the first woman of color she would be the third active woman on the 14-person, Philadelphia-based bench. Her confirmation would leave the Third Circuit with an even split: seven judges added to the bench by a Democratic president, and seven by a Republican.

Freeman clerked for Judge C. Darnell Jones II and Judge James T. Giles, both on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, according to the White House. She has degrees from Yale Law School and Swarthmore College.

In total, President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated eight new judges on Wednesday, including Nusrat Choudhury, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York, who will become the first Muslim woman to serve on the federal bench.

The eight nominees brought to 81 the number of federal appellate and district court picks Biden has made since taking office a year ago. The majority of his nominees have been women or people of color, reflecting his emphasis on diversifying the bench.