(Washington, D.C.) — For the first time in two decades, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a Black woman to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Candace Jackson-Akiwumi was confirmed with bipartisan support and is a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP. Previously, she spent 10 years as a federal public defender in the Northern District of Illinois.

The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“Candace Jackson-Akiwumi’s exceptional credentials and track record of defending and protecting the rights of all people, particularly the rights of low-income Black and Brown Americans and immigrants, gives us the utmost confidence in her ability to serve as a fair and impartial judge. She has extensive civil and criminal litigation experience, and her work as a federal public defender makes her the right person to fill this role. She has successfully argued, and won, a number of notable cases that fought against racial profiling, and has been integral in advocating against racial bias in sentencing.

“Judge Jackson-Akiwumi’s confirmation brings much-needed racial and professional diversity to the Seventh Circuit, which did not have a single appellate judge of color for the past four years, nor any judge with public defender experience. We applaud her confirmation.”